The U.K.’s top 100 law firms managed to shake off the effects of the economic downturn to maintain double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of the last financial year, according to research from professional services leader Deloitte.
The organization’s quarterly survey found firms saw revenues grow by 12 percent over the period, giving the group an average increase in turnover for the full year of 13.2 percent.
The fourth-quarter figures are marginally up on those in the previous quarter, when the same firms reported average revenue growth of 10.6 percent, down from 12.5 percent in the second quarter and 15.1 percent in the first.
Deloitte’s results also show that the top 10 firms grew faster in 2007-08 than their smaller counterparts, with the U.K.’s largest firms seeing average fee income growth of 17 percent for the year ending April 30, 2008, compared with 12.5 percent at the rest of the firms.
Average fees per fee earner grew 5.4 percent over the year, while billable hours for fee earners fell 2 percent over the period.
Jeremy Black, an associate partner at Deloitte, told Legal Week: “Figures for the year include a strong first six months and firms seem to be doing well. The firms have been very robust in the fourth quarter, which is encouraging given the current market.
“It will be interesting to see how things develop in the year ahead and whether law firm performance simply lags other sectors or whether the work generated by the financial turmoil insulates firms from any downturn.”
The Deloitte survey results come as a host of leading London firms announce strong financial results for the last financial year. Earlier this month Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer reported a revenue hike of 19.5 percent, taking its turnover to 1.18 billion pounds ($2.31 billion), while Clifford Chance last month reported a revenue jump of 11 percent, taking its figure to 1.33 billion ($2.59 billion).