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Solicitors’ profession keeps growing like Topsy — up 18% over five years

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But with training contracts gradually evaporating and government reforms of legal aid system kicking in, could the party be over?

lawyers

Death, taxes and an ever-increasing solicitors’ profession seem to be three certainties in life.

The biggest legal profession regulator reiterated the last of those realities recently by producing figures that showed that as of last month there were a staggering 133,364 solicitors practising in England and Wales — a more than 2% rise on the previous 12 months.

That means there is one solicitor for every 420 people in the jurisdiction, which is a lower ratio than the number of police per head; that’s only one rozzer to every 448. So if you are being mugged, there’s a better chance of a solicitor rushing to assist than a bobby. Comforting?

Number of practising solicitors from July 2009

graph

All this number crunching comes courtesy of figures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the body that imposes a tax on the profession to keep it on the straight and narrow.

The regulators’ figures show that apart from several hiccups over the last five years, the solicitors’ profession has grown by more than 18%.

At the pit of the global financial crisis in December 2009, there were 112,589 practising certificate holders. But despite that cataclysmic economic storm, which hit City and high street practice alike, the profession has more than recovered.

So despite major economic shocks, solicitors just keep multiplying. Although more recently the number of training contracts has been decreasing, perhaps suggesting that while the party might not be exactly over, the cans of cheap supermarket lager in the fridge could be running low and there’s a pissed bloke collapsed on the sofa.

Government policy could also rein in growth. As one anonymous commentator pointed out in relation to the figures on the Law Gazette website:

Er, hate to rain on parades etc. but I suspect the LAA [Legal Aid Agency] crime tender might affect the numbers somewhat.

Indeed, it is widely expected that if the Ministry of Justice gets its way and imposes a two-tier legal aid contract, whole swathes of the criminal law fraternity will be rushing for the door marked “early retirement” as that side of the law firm market contracts.

Indeed, bean counters at the Law Gazette — which is published by the Law Society — must have mixed feelings about increasing numbers. A gift from the society to all newly qualified solicitors is a free subscription to the paper version of the newspaper, meaning that despite the digital age, print costs at the venerable title just keep going north.

Would anyone blame the Gazette’s publisher/commercial director for quietly cheering on the MoJ’s reforms?

12 Comments

RoF rozzer

This is bound to end in tears. Circa 20,000 new solicitors in the space of five years? Utter madness.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure it will at least force toilets like London Met and the like to shutter their useless LLB courses for good.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

the real crime here is the ever increasing ‘easier’ routes into the profession. one has to ask ‘why?’. Making the route into the profession easier is only going to exacerbate the issue and result in swathes of poorly skilled, inadequately qualified solicitors ultimately having to leave the profession as they suffer a cull.

(5)(0)

Statistical Opportunist

Firstly, if you’re being mugged the chances of being assisted by an unemployed person are probably higher than by a copper. But that’s stupid, and so is your analogy which seems to suggest there’s a problem where ever any number of professionals outnumbers the collective membership of the police force. As many as is required to do the job is the only statsitic necessary.

Plus, if you’re being mugged, the chances are that any lawyer will probably be slaving away in his/her office and will have been for the last 15hours too.

(5)(0)

MrShineHimDiamond

Banter blanket.

(1)(0)

ace frehly

Could be that there are a large amount of practitioners at the senior end who choose to stay on in some sort of “consultancy” role now?

With it easier than ever to work from away from the office, 10 years ago sort of staying on would mean going in to the office most days, whereas now just responding to an email with your 10am sherry is more of an option?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

That’s rediculous- soon it will be 2 solicitors for every member of the public.

(0)(2)

Jon

You won’t be one of those 2 solicitors if you can’t even spell “Ridiculous right”

(4)(0)

Not Amused

Yeah, we could all have a moan.

OR

We could be quite proud that Britain has a world leading industry which employs highly educated individuals and pays huge amounts of tax.

(1)(2)

MrShineHimDiamond

The point is an oversupply compared to the lack of jobs, not hooray for people wasting time and money uselessly qualifying.

(1)(0)

Not Amused

Respectfully, well with more respect than you showed me at least, you are wrong.

“The chart below shows the trend in the number of practising solicitors (those holding practising certificates) in England and Wales. There are currently 133,364 practising solicitors”

The number is the number of people with PCs and hence, with jobs. The amount of jobs has gone up; that remains a figure to celebrate.

(2)(0)

Not Amused

That’s not me.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

How many are FILEX’s cross-qualifying? Huge numbers I expect.

(2)(0)

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