Arizona Attorney Rates Rising Faster Than Nation; Top Rate $1,000 An Hour

Published: Monday, December 19, 2016 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, December 19, 2016 - 6:58am
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(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona.

More fights over legal matters are paying off for some law firms in Arizona. An international consulting firm finds hourly rates are rising faster here than the national average.

Overall, legal disputes are up 7 percent in Arizona compared with last year, but they really jumped in the area of intellectual property, according to Chuck Chandler with Valeo Partners.

“That means that Arizona has moved to an attractive technology state, or technology community,” he said. “So, their IP matters, intellectual property, copyrights, patents and trademarks, those are up significantly, probably around 50 percent versus last year." 

Chandler’s firm researches and maintains a database of hourly rates at more than 1,200 law firms. He found rates at Arizona’s largest firms increased 4 to 5 percent in 2016, compared with the national increase of 2 to 3.75 percent.

Among smaller firms that are either based in Arizona or other Western states, Valeo Partners found an hourly rate increase of 2.25 to 3.25 percent vs. flat or declining rates nationally.

“You know, nobody likes to see litigation per se, but it does show a certain amount of activity and competition in the marketplace,” Chandler said. 

He said the spike in IP activity is favorable to firms because the work is complex and can be time-consuming. The highest hourly rate reported in Arizona is around $1,000 an hour, which doesn’t surprise Chandler, who evaluates rates at about 900 firms in the United States and 300 in other countries.

“Just to give you an example, and it’s not a big firm, the top rate is $2,000 an hour,” he said. “And, premiere partners at kind of the high-stakes firm, they average, kind of the top-tier is $1,250-1,300 an hour.” 

London has the highest hourly rates, followed by New York. While Phoenix does not land in the high-tier category, Chandler said Arizona is above the national median when it comes to overall hourly rates.

Highlights from the Valeo Attorney Hourly Rates Database:

  • The average partner rate at large national firms in Phoenix is $606 an hour.
  • The average rate for all positions at large national firms in Phoenix is $438 an hour.
  • The average partner rate at Arizona or Mountain state-based firms is $350 an hour.
  • The average rate for all positions at Arizona or Mountain state-based firms is $245 an hour.

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