There are now 140,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales

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By Katie King on

Highest figure ever, yet training contracts at top City firms fall

Statistics released by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) show there are now more than 140,000 practising solicitors. This is the highest number ever.

Of the 184,736 solicitors on the roll as of September 2017, a massive 142,515 solicitors were practising. Not only does this stat show there are 23 times more solicitors practising than there are barristers, it also demonstrates the huge growth the solicitor profession has experienced within itself.

Since the summer of 2009, readers can see the profession’s size increase from figures in 110,000s towards the 120,000s, which it reached in September 2010. Though there was a dip back into the teens in January 2011 to March 2011, April 2011 recorded a 120,416 result. It took two more years for the profession to hit 130,000 members, before 140,000 was reached in August 2017. We’re now on 142,515, this latest figure representing an increase of 15,406 or 12% on the number from this time five years ago.

Number of solicitors. Image via SRA

These stats paint a picture of a buoyant, healthy profession — which may come as a shock for a number of reasons.

Not only are there ‘robot lawyer’ scare stories being bandied about, there’s also Brexit. The United Kingdom’s June 2016 decision created uncertainty in the market that some feared may harm solicitor job prospects.

Indeed, the vote to leave has been leaned on in explaining this year’s autumn retention rates, which in general have been poorer than last year. This global uncertainty may also be one reason top corporate law firms have, overall, cut their training contract offerings. Legal Cheek data demonstrates a fall of 5% there.

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Though the impact of Brexit shouldn’t be understated, these SRA stats paint a more positive picture.

The new data shows the number of solicitors has actually increased by 6,917 (5%) since the vote to leave the European Union. And for aspiring solicitors worried about training contract stats, though posts at the top City players may be slightly down, Law Society data shows training contracts numbers across the board are actually up (to 5,728).

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