By Caitlin Tremblay
March 8 (Reuters) - Top law firms in the UK have lowered
their annual income forecasts for 2013, following modest income
growth of 3.5 percent for the quarter ending Jan. 31, compared
to the same period last year, according to a new survey.
The 100 top UK firms participating in Deloitte's Quarterly
Legal Sector Survey have lowered their growth projections for
the 2013 fiscal year to 3.3 percent from 5.7 percent.
"Firms are really starting to see that there's not an
expectation of much growth in the medium term," said Jeremy
Black, a partner at Deloitte's professional service practice who
worked on the report.
The survey found a pattern of relatively subdued growth for
the 2012 fiscal year, with no signs of immediate change. This
reality is prompting firms to re-examine their business models,
including how they provide and deliver services and how many
employees they need, Black said.
Law firms are striving "to balance their resources to
demand," Tony Williams of Jomati Consultants in London said in
an email. This has prompted "a level of lawyer and partner
While the top 10 firms reported a 7.4 percent increase in
growth in the third quarter, market leaders estimated a rise of
only 2.7 percent, a nod to the challenging economic conditions
that are expected to continue, according to Black.
The survey also noted a slight increase of 1.8 percent in
fee earner headcount and a 1.9 percent increase in average fees
Black sees a continued trend in consolidation of law firms.
"Merger activity highlights the 'survival of the fittest'
reality facing the professional services sector," Black said.
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