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Despite downward pressure on fees post-AMSS, senior partners now charge avg Rs 22,000 / hr, associates on Rs 10,000

Law firm billing rates have faced downward pressure amidst pricing wars triggered by Shroff break-upLaw firm billing rates have faced downward pressure amidst pricing wars triggered by Shroff break-up

Senior Indian law firm partners’ billing rates have increased by around 17% over two years to an average of $335 an hour (Rs 21,580 at current exchange rates) from $292 in 2015 (Rs 18,500 at exchange rates at that time), according to consultancy RSG India's latest research and its figures from 2015.

Junior partner rates meanwhile have risen by 28% to $237 (Rs 15,267) from $188 in 2015 (Rs 11,911 then).

Associate rates have nudged up by 30% to an average of $158 (Rs 10,178) from $123 in 2015 (Rs 7,793 then).

However, those increases are not the whole story. RSG's founder Reena Sengupta explained that the figures were an average compiled by figures supplied by law firms and clients.

And while the averages had risen slightly over 2015, the ranges had changed and “in reality, the firms can no longer really ask for the top of the range anymore. 90% of all the managing partners we interviewed said there had been downward pressure on fees”, she said.

RSG added in an excerpt of its report: “Indian law firms reported a drop in fee rates across the market. This has been explained by the turmoil in the market following the split of one of India’s largest law firms into two separate businesses.

“Law firms with large litigation practices fared better than those who are more heavily reliant on transactional work.”

At the six biggest firms, two years ago, the average billing rates for senior partners were $328, for junior partners $229, and $152 for associates at those firms.

Read our 2015 analysis in Mint on billing rates.

Average hourly fee rates (USD) for Indian Law Firms

Senior partner

$335 ($292 in 2015)

Junior partner

$237 ($188 in 2015)


$158 ($123 in 2015)

Source: RSG India

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Like +33 Object -8 Guest 30 Nov 17, 16:36  interesting  top rated  controversial
Indian law firm culture:

Partner's work = Associate's work= Intern's work = Google research

So a hefty bill for an opinion with articles copied from Google.
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Like +5 Object -2 Guest2 30 Nov 17, 17:07
Bang on bro!
Either the partner works (to sign the memo / invoice) or the intern works (to type).
Rest all are pass through entities in the system meant to fill the "time sheets" to be shared with the client.
That's what legal research and associates' role has come to mean in Indian law firm culture.
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Like +17 Object -2 Please Stop 01 Dec 17, 09:42  interesting  top rated
So do you think in-house counsel are not even capable of Google research and therefore come to law firms?
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Like +2 Object -2 Guest2 03 Dec 17, 14:59
its not a question of whether one can research or not.
most corporate approach law firms for opinion (which their own in-house counsel can very well prepare) only because of the weight the letterhead carries. this why the management can save its skin showing that their decisions were backed by legal opinion.
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Like +3 Object -2 LP560 30 Nov 17, 17:29
Most Senior Partners don't budge when it comes to their steep hourly rate but for most other work done by others, clients nowadays insist on a fixed amount rather than hourly rate rule!
And when it comes to litigation many firms charge 2/3rd of Senior Counsel fees. I doubt too many firms charge hourly rate for the number of hours spent in Court as you invariably spend most of your time waiting for your matter to be called out!
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Like +0 Object -0 which is why 30 Nov 17, 19:42
it is for a reason that they take a per-hearing fee, which is actually huge in some cases. Of course, it includes the hours spent preparing for the hearing with the team.
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Like +9 Object -1 Welcome 30 Nov 17, 18:55  interesting
Ghungru seth, thode barish ke chintee hum par gira do?
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Like +3 Object -3 Jokes 30 Nov 17, 20:12

Maybe premium Indian Clients give a 10K rate for associates
Wont be more than 6-7K for most firms.

People who scoff at this, CAM/SAM are quoting 15L as fixed fee mandates.

So high hourly for associates is a thing of the past
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Like +19 Object -0 Littor 30 Nov 17, 22:00  interesting  top rated
No one says anything when a fat cheque is cut to the senior counsel but everyone bitches and moans when it comes to paying the hardworking counsel.
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Like +1 Object -2 Salve 01 Dec 17, 12:42
Exactly. Heard Mukul Rohatgi quoted1.2 crores for a hearing in Jabalpur. Day light robbery !!!!
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Like +0 Object -6 Soop 03 Dec 17, 22:25
Well he is worth it.
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Like +3 Object -0 chewy cheetah 01 Dec 17, 01:06
thesr sre self reportrd self glorifying rates
it isnt lis fault or rsg
no client in india pays hourly
overseas yes thet too is disappearing
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Like +4 Object -0 hmmmmmmm 01 Dec 17, 05:04
US firms charge $460 for first year associates, who really just proof read docs. Partners start billing at $1000 per hour (lower end of the bracket). So i do not think this is a lot and can climb higher - cross border client wont object, given the increasing investment opportunities in India.
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Like +4 Object -2 Jokes 01 Dec 17, 12:14
Cross border clients wont mind paying Indian Partners $1000 per hour..
what you smoking bro
Tell me one Indian law firm which charges $1000 per attorney hour, gotta apply there mate
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Like +3 Object -0 NDA 01 Dec 17, 14:37
Nishith Desai himself charges USD1000, though I am unsure what value addition the NRI gives.
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Like +1 Object -0 hmmmmmmm 04 Dec 17, 11:02
Man, you need to read my comment better. I said clients won't mind paying these fees and even higher. did not say they will be ok paying $1000 per hour. Obviously, that's stupid.
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Like +2 Object -0 Taxlawyer 07 Dec 17, 03:42
I've seen least three leading senior tax lawyers recently charging US1,000-1,250/hour, including ND and Rohan sir.
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Like +0 Object -0 Wolf 04 Dec 17, 00:14
Kian, can you see this link and confirm if NLU starting salaries are now comparable to IITs? Huge news if true.
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Like +0 Object -2 Guest 04 Dec 17, 05:18
A sensible person would not have published this post. Nuff said!
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Like +5 Object -0 Guest 04 Dec 17, 14:27  interesting
This is fake news and paid news published by vested interests. The truth is that law firms partners are begging for work and there is a huge crisis.

Stop trusting the media, even so-called alternate media like Legally India.
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Like +0 Object -2 Very Sad 08 Dec 17, 07:46
It stinks when lawyers try to benefit from the misfortune of their clients, especially in litigation
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Like +1 Object -0 Really Sad 09 Dec 17, 17:23
Do you grudge your fee to a doctor...aren't they benefiting from misfortune of their patients!
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 15 Dec 17, 00:24
true.. unavoidable..well lose or win. they are paid! so what's d big deal!! .. but there a few who are sincere n would want the justice to prevail..

...god bless them n one has to be blessed too to first find that luck... Even aftr a couple of years.. Or decades?
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Like +1 Object -0 Start-up Lawfirm 22 Dec 17, 13:43
As a small law firm, I think more clients in India need to appreciate the worth of their legal counsel. We monetise our time for which we work hard to gain the knowledge and expertise. With the recent trend of large law firms offering throw-away rates to clients really erodes the profession.

We cannot compete with INR 4,500/hr that some firms end up offering to clients. Large firms leverage their cash to grab more work and we are left in the dust, being unable to make ends meet even with a full time sheet.

We should have an environment where lawyers are respected for their time and are paid according to how they value themselves. There are no success based fees in India, and even if one were to tread on the wrong side of the law, there isn't much in terms of success based fee in corporate transactions.

Litigators will always be their own brand in their own right. CAS/SAM/AZB/L&L, please charge your full rates!
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