Increasing competition between London's top law firms in light of the global downturn has led to substantial discounting.
Jim Diamond, an independent legal costs consultant, said partners in London's top five firms now billed an average of £450 ($845) an hour, compared with £675 a year ago, reported The Times.
Figures assembled from law firms and their clients showed the average cost of instructing a partner at Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer or Linklaters had dropped to a five-year low, said Diamond. Also, in one instance, comparable firms had given quotes that varied by 60 per cent, he added.
An anonymous magic circle partner said "Those banks that still have a steady flow of business know how valuable they are and are demanding cuts of up to 30 per cent, safe in the knowledge that if their current law firm does not like the reduced rate, a rival will gladly pick up the work."