National survey finds that there are 66,211 practising solicitors in Australia

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The ‘2014 Law Society National Profile of Solicitors in Australia’ report was released this morning on the NSW Law Society website.

The first time this report has been updated since 2011, key findings include:

  • there are now 66,211 Practising Solicitors in Australia – a 12% increase since 2011.
  • of all practising solicitors in Australia:
    • 34,10 (51.5%) were male, and
    • 32,110 (48.5%) were female.

This represents a significant increase in the proportion of female solicitors since 2011  – when the percentage number ratios were 54.6% male to 43.4% female.

  • while the mean age of Australian solicitors has remained roughly the same at 41.9 years – compared to 42.0 years in 2011, interestingly the largest proportional growth age bracket is occurring in the over 65 years age group (with a 38% increase in this group since 2011).
  • as at October 2014, the majority of practising solicitors in Australia were private practitioners  – 70.2%; with the percentage numbers in other major sectors of the profession in Australia remaining fairly static since 2011 – 15.8% were corporate solicitors and 9.6% worked in the government sector.

Most interestingly, while overall the Australian legal market remains represented by small practices – 2,155 firms (17.3% of the total) had 2 to 4 partner and 514 firms (4.1% of the total) had 5 to 10 partners:

  • there are now 77 law firms across Australia where the number of partners exceed 40 – representing a 300% increase from 2011, and
  • there are now 74 law firms across Australia where the number of partners range from 21 to 39 – representing a 111% increase from 2011.

In addition to potentially showing significant consolidation in the Australian legal market over the past three years (the overall percentage representative number of sole practitioners is actually down roughly 3% in 2014 from 2011), these numbers would appear to indicate that the slow death of large law firms, and the professional more generally, is being greatly over exaggerated in the Australian legal press.

Indeed, one could argue that now more than ever the market in Australia is highly competitive and that it is becoming increasingly important that you and your firm be able to communicate what differentiates you from the crowd.

If you haven’t already, I’d like to recommend that you take a look at the report – it contains some very interesting statistics; including, for the first time, statistics on the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

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