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The Mad Clientist

Clients Pay Their Highest Rates to These Law Firms–and They Are Worth It

By June 13, 2018April 16th, 2020No Comments

Clients are slimming down the list of firms to whom they pay their highest rate. This can help explain why the top rate hasn’t budged in 3 years—at a lofty $2,000 an hour. And, only 56% of clients say these firms are truly worth it.

Clients pay the highest rates when they need deep insight, understanding, and unflinching confidence in the ability to deliver. This presumes the firms bring unique knowledge and understanding of the risk. The following firms stand out above all others for: 1) Being identified as the firm clients pay the highest rate; 2) Clients sharing this high rate with BTI; and 3) The firm was well worth this highest rate.

The Highest of the High

The above firms are part of the BTI Client Service 30—the law firms clients single out for delivering the best client service.

Garnering Super-Premium Rates

The firms below also enjoy their clients’ highest rates—but not quite as high and not quite as many clients as the firms above. Please join us in congratulating:

Follow the Money

It is no coincidence one of the largest spending industries tops the list of highest rates paid. These rates are averages of the highest rate paid reported in each industry:

Life Sciences
High Tech
Professional Services
Consumer Goods
Financial Services



We live in a world where top legal decision makers are relentless in wringing maximum value out of their law firms. These firms are living proof of value being delivered at the very top of the rate spectrum. The firms who enjoy these rates gain their credibility by:

  • Dropping everything and showing up—or making it seem so

  • Showing up with piercing questions and a plan

  • Pivoting with ease—as in changing the plan when facts, circumstances, and/or goals change

  • Mobilizing quickly—and never discussing resource issues in front of their client

  • Bringing bigger teams on their matter—there IS safety in numbers—top dollar is not lean and mean

  • Being ready to talk budget right then and there

  • Speaking unequivocally in their thoughts and recommendations

  • Having one person clearly accountable

  • Exuding a certain calm

As more clients pay more law firms their highest rates, their expectations will soar along with these rates. As complex work grows, look for clients who want you to look high-rate ready—especially since more and more matters are morphing from complex to bet-the-company midstream. Every relationship partner can start adopting the top-rate behaviors at any time—this will give you practice for when the big day comes—and just might get you happier clients at premium rates.

You can see the list of all firms earning the highest rates in our newest report BTI Highest Rate Firms 2018. Order your complimentary copy here.


*Based on BTI research conducted between September 2017 and January 2018. BTI conducted more than 360 independent, individual interviews with top legal decision makers at large organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue.

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