Largest law firms see fee boost despite "challenging" overseas conditions

THE UK’s largest law firms have reported an average fee increase of 3% per fee earner, despite the overseas activities of larger firms taking a hit.

The top 100 firms achieved a fee income increase of 7% in the three months to January, compared with the same period last year, according to Deloitte’s Quarterly Legal Sector Survey,

It attributed the growth to the continued consolidation in the sector, particularly amongst firms ranked between 51 and 100 by size.

Markets remain challenging in certain overseas jurisdictions in which some of the UK’s larger firms operate, with movements in exchange rates negatively impacted on sterling fee income. This has led to an overall fall in fee income for some of the larger firms.

Firms outside the UK top 10 have achieved strong increases in fees per earner this quarter, with average growth of 4%.

Chargeable hours per fee earner have remained fairly static, this suggests that there has been some increase in the hourly rates that firms are achieving.

Stephen Hall, partner in Deloitte’s professional practices team in Yorkshire, said: “This quarter’s survey results are in line with the performance seen in the previous two quarters, indicating a relatively stable environment for firms operating in the UK.

“Outside of the UK however certain markets remain challenging. Sentiment for the remainder of the year to April 30 2015 is reasonably positive, with average growth expectations between 6% and 7% for the full year.”


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