JEFFERSON CITY   •   The lawyer pulling down the highest hourly pay in Missouri is former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway of Ladue, according to a recent sampling of rates by Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

The St. Louis-based publication reported that Hanaway charged $793 an hour in a 2012 case involving a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit.

The second-highest in-state rate was $750 an hour, charged by another former public official: former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Edward “Chip” Robertson Jr.

Ranking third was the $700 rate billed by former state Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Kansas City.

The study, conducted annually, analyzed rates charged by 648 attorneys and staff members, based on applications for fees in court filings and information submitted by law firms.

Hanaway, who was speaker of the House from 2003-2004, is a law partner of John Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor and former U.S. attorney general.

Hanaway said in an interview that most of the litigation she handles “is for national and international clients, to assist them when they’re in very difficult circumstances, and our rates are very competitive in that arena.”

She added that her $793 rate came “on a case that we haven’t been paid on since last July, and which we’re being forced to take a 30 percent discount on.”

A discounted rate of $555 an hour still beats government work. The lowest rate in the sampling was $65 an hour, earned by an attorney for the St. Louis district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Hanaway, a Republican, led the drive when the GOP took control of the House in 2003 for the first time in 48 years. She is the only woman to have ever held the top House post.

She lost a race for secretary of state to Democrat Robin Carnahan in 2004.  Hanaway then served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri under President George W. Bush.

Though she’s been on the political sidelines lately, her name is being bandied about as a potential candidate for statewide office in 2016.

“I am thinking about it,” confirmed Hanaway, who has lost about 100 pounds since she was last on the political stage. “People have encouraged me to look at governor or attorney general.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will be term-limited out in 2016, and Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, is likely to run for governor.

Several other Republicans are also testing the waters for statewide bids. They include House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka; Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia; and Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.

Virginia Young is the Jefferson City bureau chief of the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on twitter at @virginiayoung.

Virginia Young is the Jefferson City bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.