North-South Gap Widens?

A survey of “top 100” legal firms by PwC has found that average fee income in Scotland fell by 21.7% in 2012. PwC described 2012 as a tough year for legal businesses across the UK, however English firms appeared to have fared much better than their Scottish counterparts.

Armstrong Watson, with 14 offices throughout Northern England and Southern Scotland, has a particular specialism in advising law firms. Andy Poole, their Legal Sector Director commented that:

“It is interesting to note PwC’s comments on the legal sector in Scotland, and although it is indeed true that these are challenging times for lawyers for a number of reasons, the top 100 survey may not be entirely appropriate as a benchmark for the majority of Scottish firms. The Scottish Law Society’s annual cost of time survey better reflects conditions for most law firms in Scotland. The last published such survey, for 2011, was based on responses from 238 firms, some 19% of the total in Scotland. Only 10 of those 238 firms had more than 10 partners. The median profit per equity partner increased from £64k in the prior year to £71k, which is more in line with our own benchmarking database. This may be down from a peak of £104k in 2008, but is showing signs of stabilising, as is the median fees per fee earner of just over £100k.”

“On average, Scottish firms out-perform their English counterparts when it comes to collecting debtors. The 2011 cost of time survey reported median debtor days for Scottish firms of 28 days, down from 36 in the previous year – this is significantly better than the rest of the UK, and is likely to be due to the nature of work undertaken.”

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