Average income generated by fee earners in firms ranked from 26-50 has outpaced the average achieved in the top 11-25, according to the latest snapshot from a bellwether survey, highlighting the ‘changing dynamics’ in the sector.

According to Deloitte’s Quarterly Legal Sector Survey, in the year ending 30 April average fee income at the top 100 firms rose by 5.4%. This was enabled by a 2.6% rise in the number of fee earners as well as in average income per fee earner.

In the last quarter of the financial year, average fee income rose by 6% over the same period last year, with fees for the top 10 firms rising by 7.2%.

But while the average fees in the top 10 remained higher than for their smaller peers at £391,000, average fees for firms in the 26-50 category overtook the 11-25 category, at £260,000 compared to £248,000. Average fee income for the 51-100 category was £204,000.

Jeremy Black (pictured), partner in Deloitte's professional practices group, said growth among firms ranked 26-50 was a ‘clear sign of the changing dynamics within the sector’.

He said: ‘Over the last couple of years, merger activity in the sector and large differences in the growth rates achieved by firms, along with changes in business models and technology, have had a significant impact on what has historically been a relatively stable sector.‘

The top 100 firms are forecasting a 4% rise in fee income for the year ahead.