Missouri Lawyers Media’s 2023 Billing Rates section delves into fee applications filed with local state and federal courts to see how much lawyers in Missouri charge per hour for their services.
Many of the fees in this publication came from employment, civil-rights and other cases in which a fee-shifting statute was employed to make the losing side pay the victors’ fees. Rates also come from class-action settlements in which attorneys provided their normal hourly fees as a baseline for the contingency fee they wanted the judge to approve.
In some instances, fees were owed as part of a contract dispute, and a few were imposed as a court-ordered sanction. Many also come from bankruptcy filings, though personal and business bankruptcy filings have declined in the last few years, so fewer rates are available from those sources than once was the case.
The Billing Rates survey relies on filings available through Missouri’s Case.net system, as well as federal filings in the Eastern District and Western District of Missouri, the Kansas City, Kansas courthouse of the District of Kansas and the East St. Louis and Alton courthouses of the Southern District of Illinois. Where appropriate, we also check specific cases featuring Missouri attorneys that were litigated in other states.
The median rate for Missouri lawyers overall was $390 an hour, down slightly from last year’s figure of $400. The statewide median was $450 per hour for partners, $293 for associates and $350 for other attorneys, such as counsel or lawyers whose titles weren’t apparent from firm websites or court filings. This year’s survey encompasses rates from 169 attorneys.
In St. Louis, the median rate was $375 an hour, down from $385 in 2022. The median St. Louis partner charged $400 per hour, while the median associate charged $215. The St. Louis figures were calculated from a pool of 78 lawyers.
In Kansas City, the median rate was $475 an hour, up from $425 in 2022. The median partner charged $506 an hour, and the median associate rate was $298. The Kansas City rates were calculated from a pool of 74 attorneys.
There were 18 rates found from outside of the state’s two metropolitan areas. The median hourly rate for lawyers from Springfield, Columbia, Joplin and Cape Girardeau was $375. The data set was too small to break down rates for partners and associates.
Law firm staff, such as legal administrative assistants, paralegals and law clerks, had a median rate of $150 per hour. The pool of 37 staff members was drawn from around the state, though most were concentrated in the metropolitan areas.
These rates are just a sampling. Though drawn from recent court filings, some fee requests were for work performed in previous years, so rates might have changed in the meantime. Wherever possible, we have used the most recent available rates.
If the same attorney claimed different rates in fee applications in two or more cases, we have used the highest rate.
We use the attorney’s stated customary rates, rather than the rate the court applied or discounted rates offered to a particular client. Rates can vary according to the case or client, so a listed rate for an attorney might not apply in other cases.
We only list rates associated with individual attorneys, so rate ranges or blended rates for multiple attorneys were omitted.
Attorneys are listed with the firm or organization where they worked at the time the fee request was made. They might have changed firms or been promoted since then, or the firm might have changed names or ceased to exist.
Information on titles, practice specialties and office locations is drawn primarily from fee applications, supplemented with information from firm websites. Practice listings typically describe the type of case for which the fee was incurred, which might not be the attorney’s main area of practice.
Attorneys and staff in offices near the metropolitan St. Louis area in Illinois and the metropolitan Kansas City area in Kansas were counted as in-state rates. Staff are generally listed in the city where their firm is headquartered.
Reporter Scott Lauck and freelance researcher Jennie Goodman researched the listings.