Fee incomes at law firms worst for six quarters

Elizabeth Fournier
THE UK’s biggest law firms are growing fee income at the slowest rate for six quarters, according to data out this morning.

Though average income across the UK’s top 100 firms grew by 3.8 per cent in the three months to 31 July, the rate of growth was the worst recorded since the final quarter of 2010, when the industry grew by 2.8 per cent.

The quarterly survey, compiled by Deloitte, also showed that the bigger the firm the slower is seems to be growing, with firms ranked from 51 to 100 increasing fee income by an average of 5.5 per cent – compared to just 1.7 per cent among the top 10.

Increased pressure on pricing was evident in the data, with firms ranked between 11 and 25 seeing an average 2.5 per cent drop in fees per fee earner, despite increasing headcount by five per cent.

Jeremy Black, the Deloitte partner put together the data, said firms were expecting continued income growth next year, but that ongoing economic instability meant it is “unlikely there will be any significant growth in the sector as a whole in the medium term”.

On average, the top 100 law firms expect a 4.9 per cent fee income growth for the year to the end of April 2013.