Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Response to Cogent Comment

The comment to the following post -- click on it to view -- is correct insofar as it pertains to lawyers in the megafirms that dominate the legal profession in the U.S. today. Billing rates in those firms are set at what major corporations will pay for legal services (and can pass on to the rest of us as part of the price of the goods and services they provide). Lawyers in these firms feel entitled to earn amounts as obscene as those being raked in by the top executives of their corporate clients. (Otto Von Bismarck, Germany’s legendary iron chancellor, once noted that “people sleep better at night when they do not know how their laws or their their sausages are made” and the same thing could be said for how those executive salaries and bonuses are set, but that is a subject for another future post.)

At the level of the individual lawyer or small firm serving individual and small business clients billing rates that appear high actually reflect the government orchestrated decline in the value of the dollar. For example, a classmate who has practiced alone since graduating from law school, initially set his hourly billing rate at the price of a Big Mac without the decimal point, and to this date he has kept his hourly rate at the same benchmark.

Unfortunately, the earnings of most Americans have not kept pace with any other benchmark of real value. This, or course, is not true in the case of our law makers as they have managed to more than adequately, and very generously exempt themselves from the burdens that their actions have imposed on the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

What an interesting billing rate: 100 Big Macs per hour.

One wonders whether, having gained some years of experience and (hopefully) the knowledge and judgement that go with them, perhaps "law school classmate" may have earned some "fries with that?"

Also, as "law school classmate" is likely aware, The Economist magazine has for some years maintained an international "Big Mac Index," as a tool to evaluate currency exchange rates.


Well, it just goes to show what is possible in America: hawk fast food in the morning; measure the worth of professional services at noon; illuminate global finance in the evening.

K. R. Mudgeon said...

Really appreciate this . . . and comments such as this give me hope for the future of our society.