How much is your time worth?

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I guarantee that your time is not worth as much as the partners' at these big law firms. The National Law Journal's annual billing survey found that the highest hourly rate in the nation was $1,260 per hour at White & Case. At that firm, the average partner billing rate is $747 per hour.

The firm has said, however, that the highest rate reported isn't representative of rates across the firm. It is apparently a special rate that would be used under only two client scenarios.

In second place for lawyer billing rates was $1,180 per hour at Dorsey & Whitney. This rate is charged by two partners who specialize in international tax, and are based in London. The average partner there billed $505. Two other law firms had partners charging $1,000 or more per hour. Across the nation, the average billing rate for attorneys was $363 per hour.

Rates like these always amuse me. Like attorneys, accountants usually charge their clients by the hour. I've mostly avoided that type of billing arrangement in my practice because I never wanted to sell my time. I wanted to sell my expertise. But I promise you that if you would pay me $1,260 per hour (or $21 per minute), I'd be more than happy to charge by the hour.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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