Billing rates continued to climb in 2010 — but by only a fraction of the rate they grew during the boom years of the mid-2000s. The average firmwide billing rate — a combination of associate and partner rates — increased by 2.7% in 2010, according to our annual survey of hourly billing rates. It’s the second straight year of growth rates less than 3%, which is a far cry from the standard 6% to 8% increases from 2004 until 2008 and just slightly higher than the rate of inflation.

The new normal: billing rate increases of 5% or less
“I think the days of firms being greedy are over,” said Michael Kelly, the chairman of McCarter & English.