The UK’s top-100 firms increased their average fee income by 7% in the year to 30 April 2019, according to a regular sector snapshot. Deloitte’s quarterly legal sector survey attributes the growth to a rise in the number of fee earners and an increase in rates recovered. The figure is only slightly lower than last year’s 7.7% growth.
Income per fee earner also grew, rising by 3% year-on-year.
Deloitte said it was still concerned for the future, however, noting a marked slowdown in growth in the quarter ending 30 April. Fee income grew by just 3% in the final quarter and fees per fee earner fell by 1%.
Jeremy Black, partner in Deloitte’s professional services practice, said: ‘Over the course of the year, the UK’s top-100 law firms performed strongly, and the overall level of performance was above what many expected at the start of the year.’
He added: ‘The strong year-on-year average fee growth comes despite a mixed performance across the different size categories in the final quarter of the financial year.
‘Time will tell as to whether the more modest growth in this quarter is the start of a period of lower growth for the sector, or simply a dip prior to stronger growth in the year ahead.’
The results reporting season will soon begin in earnest, however some firms have already reported. In June Fieldfisher announced a rise in profit per equity partner and annual revenue, while in May Taylor Wessing reported growth in UK net profit.