Someone recently told me they were quoted $2,500 per hour for an attorney. I thought that was unusually high in 2023, so I did some research. I found that in 2023, attorney hourly rates range from about $300 to $2,500.
Attorney rates continued to climb during the pandemic, especially as corporate and bankruptcy attorneys were in higher demand. Recent news reports indicate that a number of attorneys increased their hourly rates beyond $2,000, with many new attorneys in only their second year charging over $1,000 per hour.
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Highest Hourly Rate Lawyers in 2023
Examples of lawyers with the highest hourly rates in 2023 include the following:
- $2,465 per hour was charged by Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells according to Reuters.
- $2,000 per hour or $20,000 a day was discussed for Rudy Giuliani’s time according to the New York Times.
- $1,965 per hour per hour was charged by attorney Bryce Friedman of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett according to Bloomberg.
- $1,950 per hour was charged by David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP according to Reuters.
- $1,230 per hour per hour was charged by attorney Dirk Vandermeersch of Cleary Gottlieb in Brussels according to Lawyers Mutual.
- $1,220 per hour was charged by tax attorney Ian Taplin of Kirkland & Ellis according to Lawyers Mutual.
- $1,165 per hour was charged by corporate attorney Gerhard Schmidt of Weil Gotshal & Manges according to Lawyers Mutual.
- $1,163 per hour was charged by attorney Michelle Y.L. Gon of Baker McKenzie according to Lawyers Mutual.
- $1,160 per hour was charged by corporate attorney Andrew Shutter of Cleary Gottlieb according to Lawyers Mutual.
- $1,075 per hour was charged by attorney Lee Coffey of Jones Day according to Lawyers Mutual.
Unreasonable vs. Excessive Attorney Fees
Most state ethics rules state that attorneys are not permitted to charge an “unreasonable” amount. For example, here is an oral argument where the Minnesota Supreme Court considered whether an attorney’s fees were excessive. But what qualifies as “unreasonable?”
Like other states, Minnesota’s Rules of Professional Responsibility provide some guidance to determine whether attorney fees are reasonable or excessive:
A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
See Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.5(a). This third factor, “the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services,” requires consideration of other attorney rates in your geographic region and practice area. So the amount other attorneys are charging is relevant to how much an individual attorney can charge.
Not all attorneys charge hourly rates. Attorneys who receive contingency fees, based on the outcome of cases, often receive much higher (or lower) rates, depending on the results of their cases.
Lowest Hourly Rate Lawyers in 2023
In my experience, I have observed attorneys billing as low as $300 per hour in 2023. Attorneys who are inexperienced, desperate for work, or located in rural areas are more likely to have the lowest rates.
Here are additional online resources to continue learning about this topic:
Which Lawyers Have the Highest Rates? How Much Do They Charge?
Well, we did a little digging online, and current rates appear to be as much as around $2,000 per hour. And typically, these are going to be lawyers who are in high demand, have extraordinary amounts of experience, and are able to save a lot of money for their clients, which justifies why they are charging so much. So I have actually seen a little above $2,000 per hour or $20,000 per day. We will put a link down below with an article that I put together on this showing some online examples of what some attorneys make, or I should say, what they charge. Generally, attorneys’ rates are not public information, but sometimes, they need to be filed in court cases to get reimbursed. And so we can see the rates that they are charging because these court cases involve public documents. And that is typically where journalists have been able to uncover how much our attorneys receive these days.
By the way, the money that these lawyers are paid or that their firm is paid doesn’t mean it actually goes to the lawyer. It covers the firm’s overhead, the firm’s marketing, the firm’s accounting department, administrative staff, insurance, and all those expenses that go along with running a company, just like if you are a bakery and you sell $2,000 worth of bakery goods in a day. It doesn’t mean the baker is taking home $2,000. What it means is the business brings in $2,000, which they now use to cover all the expenses of running a business. That said, $2,000 is certainly a lot of money, and it takes a very expensive problem to be able to justify spending that kind of money on an attorney.
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