Nosy question for city law tedes

if you're getting paid 100k +

How much do you bill a year?


don't NQs at decent shops get near enough that? 

Firms have variable targets.  Some as low as 1400, some as high as 2300.  Many pretend they dont have targets but they do if you want the bonus.  I would say 1750 is about average for top 50 firms, obviously skewed towards the MC and yank firms.

In smaller firms, the targets might be a bit lower but they will start to look at collected rather than billed and of course you then get horrid scumbags moving things like trainee time onto non billable files to increase recovery rates...

£0 now as in house  :-)

In the bad old days I got about £150k in my last PP role and did 1,200 billable hours.  So after deductions and the rest maybe brought in £450-500K?

But those were strange days. I was actually one of the top billing associates unlike my ex-room mate who came over from Oz and did sub-100 hours in her 18 months she spent at the firm before the redundancies came.  She was absolutely ripped though, proper couple of hours a day at the gym for 18 months whilst pocketing >£100k.

Love how Wang's answer is in hours not £...

I've always thought it's odd how targets are given in chargeable hours rather than £££. A lot of firms (especially US) do this. Surely the number of hours is irrelevant as long as you bring in the dolla - you can spend all day pissing about unproductively and put all your time down which ultimately you may never be able to bill.

Juniors would be expected to be 4-5+ x salary.  A senior (particularly one who effectively adds leverage by supervising juniors on matters with very limited/no partner involvement) might get away with 3.5x salary

1,750 is brutal.

260 working days minus say 25 for holibobs, that's 7.5 billable a day. Allowing for a 90% recovery rate, that's 8.3 chargeable hours a day you'd need to record.

How do these gimps do it?


My target is a combination of hours recorded and time actually billed and paid for.  Think it's meant to be about 3.5 but most years the reality is somewhere between 2.5 and 3 depending on the market.

Ducks I worked at a silver circle firm where you could get credits on  your hours for things like writing articles.  Partners would sign off on associates being credited 20 hours to write a one page flyer so do a few of those and you've found 100+ hours towards your target but only had to spend 5 hours at work.

Because they take the piss, call at stupid hours in the AM, and make 10 phone calls in 3 minutes but record 6min per call and some are 15 per

Thank you in particular for the answers which completely fail to answer the question "how much do you bill" 

All firms I have worked in judge non partner lawyers (excl PSL types) on billable hours. 

For partners, it is different.  THey judge you on chargeable hours, your teams chargeable hours, recovery, leverage, over leverage, new business generation, lack of new business generation, lack of pastoral care type stuff like COFA or trainee person, or training or BD, too much pastrosal care type stuff, writing articles, not writing articles, attending partner meetings, not attending partner meetings,, being collegiate, not being collegiate...

Dux - at proper law firms it's hours recorded that count for target purposes not hours billed/recovered. How hard it is very, very much depends on what you do.

If you are a junior M&A gimp or litigator it's not that bad. Get in at 9am, switch the clock on, work on whatever corner of Project Twatcorp or Khunty vs Twater mega case you are involved in until you go home and switch the clock off.  

Much harder if you are specialist/do something that involves working on multiple matters.

Difficult to answer because there are many variables, but 4x salary is a good rough guide for what is expected as a minimum.

A friend of mine at a US firm told me they bill on average some insane figure. Might even be close to a mil. 

I've always thought it's odd how targets are given in chargeable hours rather than £££.

It's a motivational and workflow issue.  If it were just on recovery, associates would be incentivised to avoid lower recovery work within one team.  It would burn the team ethos pretty quickly.

I bill around 5x my salary, but I'm in a profitable area and do lots of billable hours compared to most (yes I know I'm a mug). Targets are a little under 4x salary. 

Wang I think the confusion comes from talking about hours 'billed' v hours 'recorded' on a client file.


Judging associate performance on time billed and recovered from the client is utter spivvery.

Especially given the junior has no input on whose time is billed, how much of a write off is acceptable, how much the billing partner is prepared to bend over to be nickle and dimed and whether the client was even good for the money in the first place.

YOTP - it cuts both ways though on motivation.  I always tried to keep billing "realistic" and recovery rates very high, which meant more £ and few bills quibbledt.  Most years I'd trot in at an unspectacular 1,500 - 1,600 billable.  But there were loads of others with 1,800 + on the clock who had lower billings than me, and were at no disadvantage in terms of rates.  Used to piss me off, to be honest.  A few of them were proper time-dumpers as well.

(I'm not saying you're wrong)

1600-1900 hours on average. I’ve never checked the average amount in cash - it would vary quite a bit year to year though as client rates can be quite different.


You can (should) manage (reward) efficiency through a discretionary  bonus scheme tbh.   

Stop talking about HOURS 

talk dolla people fgs 

I guess cos it’s because firms are obsessed with hours. Hit your target and the fact that we’ve agreed with British Spaz to charge £2/hour for you doesn’t matter. 

I'd expect anyone above a very junior associate to have access to information on recovery rates because pure hours encourages people to just take their time whereas having one eye on how much of it is actually paid up can encourage efficiency.  Also teaches some proportionality and not to spend hours on some small point that we won't get paid for focusing on.

Linda,  I've not been in the city for 12 years but that's a difficult question to answer (I was projects and litigation)

1. Clients tended to have individual billing arrangements, some clients no travel, some clients had lowers rates.

2. When you were subbed out to other areas, you tended to be part of a global fee arrangement.  You could bill all you liked but if it's a stage or percentage offer it didn't make a difference.

In your area of law there is more a direct correlation between your hours and the fees.  When you are part of a bigger client arrangement and on bigger deals, that just didn't exist.

My target was 1500, which was quite easy to do, but I suspect it wasn't recovered.  We'd see our own write offs, but not the fee arrangement ones.


Linda - as I said....

If they are junior and on 100k they will be billing 4 to 5 times that so 400-500k.

If they are senior and on (for the sake of argument) 200k they will probably be billing 3.5 to 4 times that so 700k to 800k. 


as others said it very much depends but those salary multiples are roughly what a top tier UK firm will be looking for (and will generally achieve at least the bottom end of for most associates in reasonable times)

Although as said above, at the junior end they may not know exactly how much of the time they have recorded is actually billed.

Associate at a top 30 firm in London. I record about between four and five times my salary - billing recovery in my team is 90%.

I have colleagues though at my pqe level who are less efficient than I am, and less good at time recording and scoping. Being bad at the latter isn't necessarily a bar to recording a lot of time, but I imagine a lot of their time is simply written off because they did not provide a fee estimate to the client prior to undertaking said work.

I am aware of friends at a number of city firms who are paid considerably more than me, who record considerably more time than me, but who work in transactional practice areas and have about 30-40% of their time written off. 

Completely agree about the point about junior associates not necessarily being aware of how much of what the bill is written off, in my practice area it is very common for juniors to do scoping for their own matters, but I know senior associates in our Corporate team for instance who have never seen a billing form or done matter management and did not know anything about financial metrics for law firms or how to get money out of clients. Frankly staggering that.

Yeah but they'll do an all-nighter on Project Thundercunt at the drop of a hat and can dial for a pizza with their ear.

I'm just pissed off that they've removed cash collected from my target because as a senior associate working on things that rarely involve anyone else and where I get money to pay the bill on or before completion I was rocking that metric.

As an18 month PQE I was paid $42.5k in 1999 and collected $200k (I can’t remember what I billed but it will not have been much more as I generally only billed what I knew was going to be paid).

there aren't many city firms which pay under 100 to NQs

to be honest, if you're at a US firm you could bill say 2300 hours, but you could get x% of your hours written off or pushed on BD, which means that you fall under your target hours and don't hit bonus.

if you're at a Travers and bill 1800 you'll probably get your bonus and be close to 100k as an NQ if you're in a profitable team with decent recovery and leverage. 

given the rates of income tax on the 30-40k above 100k, there's a serious conversation to be had as to whether the additional c.15k or whatever net net is worth the commitment of those 500 hours - which as they progress over 1600, 1700 etc, becoming increasingly more difficult, exhausting and unpleasant to complete.

even if you billed 2100 hours at travers versus 2100 hours at latham, there's probably a bit difference in the pressure, stress and expectations which got you to the 2100.

The fact that associates do not have an absolutely iron grip on this is astounding.


There will be a direct correlation between those who understand the money flow and those who are made a partner.

I suppose it depends on practice area. In litigation I think it's impossible not to know your numbers 

Generally billing 5.5x my salary over the last 3/4 years. Maybe 4x as a more junior associate.

Hours never really dropped below 1900, most of the time 2000+ easy. 

Main reason profitability increased was more profitable work, higher hourly rate and salary not moving proportionality (ie rate up 9%, salary up 6% etc).

Bonus changes the above numbers quite considerably.

~78k gross, 3pqe, 420k billed. Should probably ask for more munny tbh.

as an aside, years and years ago, I once accidentally cut and paste a RoF thread into a billing narrative on the time recording system....


Hope it wasn’t one of the cringe fighty ones

ha ha ha

this is why I never rof from any work device judy 

"I will cut you down ruthlessly" - 4.5 units - Ebilling Code 45: Costs Submissions

bloody hell, what are people's hourly rates? so a nq on 35k for example in the regions, has a minimum target of 140k a year? nearly 12k a month seems hefty

bloody hell, what are people's hourly rates? so a nq on 35k for example in the regions, has a minimum target of 140k a year? nearly 12k a month seems hefty

Margins will be lower in the regions.

But 12k a month at 200 p/h (lower to mid level regional charge out rate) is only 60 hours being recovered. So that's not even equivalent to 1000 a year. Assume most regional targets are 1,400+?

Sails im surprised you are at a silver city firm given the work you have described in the past, I figured boutique or west end.

A good few years back when I was blozzing docs for roks I would be billing 500k. I was Europa League associate then, occasionally playing in a champions league qualifier. The write offs were mostly when I had to work for our corporate team, easier as they didn’t have to look me in the eye I suppose. Was meant to be pro rata across the departments. 

biggie there are a large number of city firms that don’t pay their NQs 100 large. Slaughters being one of them.