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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

TAKING A HIKE - If there’s one practice area in which lawyers can still get away with charging $2,000 an hour right now, it’s bankruptcy and restructuring. In fact, big firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges are doing just that. And even if rates increase again in the near term, some law firm and restructuring observers told Samantha Stokes they don’t expect too much pushback from clients. But is another rate hike really on the horizon? That’s debatable. Mark Medice, a law firm management consultant at LawVision who focuses on financial performance and data science, told Stokes that, based on how firms behaved during the Great Recession, he doesn’t think there will be an annual adjustment to bankruptcy billing rates in 2020. But Lynn LoPucki, a restructuring law professor at UCLA Law, said there are few stakeholders in bankruptcy court that will keep rate increases in check: “If you’re a debtor, you’re not going to control the fees because you’re spending other people’s [the creditors'] money.”

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