Business continues to be buoyant at the Top-100, according to the latest snapshot from a long-running survey of the legal sector.

According to Deloitte’s Quarterly Legal Sector Survey, average income in this segment rose by 4.7% in the second quarter of 2015-16, an increase of 1.6% per fee-earner. 

This resulted in an overall increase of 4.5% in fee income in the first half of the financial year.

Average fee income increases of just over 5% were achieved by firms in the 1-10, 26-50 and 51-100 size categories this quarter, with more modest growth of 2% achieved by firms in the 11-25 size category.

Growth in the largest firms was achieved through an increase in the rates recovered, while growth for firms ranked 26-100 was predominantly due to increases in fee-earner numbers of around 4%.

Jeremy Black, professional services partner at Deloitte, said: 'This quarter was a particularly strong quarter for the largest firms with strong demand in certain practice areas and an increased focus on pricing and profitability driving growth.

'For firms outside the 1-10 size category, increases in fee income have largely been achieved through growth in fee-earner numbers rather than increases in chargeable hours per fee-earner or rates. A focus on pricing and profitability will be key in the second half of the financial year given some of the pressures firms are seeing on fee-earner salaries.'

The survey, which has been reporting for more than eight years, also found that participants expect a relatively strong third quarter, with firms predicting average fee income increases of 6%.