Annual Statistics Report 2017

The Law Society Annual Statistics Report 2017 describes the size and composition of the solicitors' profession and describes trends in entry to the profession.

The City of London again outstripped other areas with the sharpest increase in practising solicitors.

  • Overall the number of solicitors with practising certificates (PC) was 2.5 per cent higher than a year earlier. At 31 July 2017, there were 139,624 PC holders.
  • In absolute terms, the majority of the growth in practising solicitor numbers over the past 10 years has been in roles located in London, and particularly the City of London - where there are now over 11,000 more solicitors working compared with 2007.
  • The absolute number of practising solicitors was higher in 2017 than ten years earlier in all areas apart from the East and North East of England.
  • The total number of PC holders in the City in 2017 was at just under 30,000 (an increase of 62 per cent over ten years. At 2007 total PC holders stood at just over 18,000).

For the first time, female PC holders outnumbered male colleagues.

  • In 2017 50.1 per cent of PC holders were women.

London is the only region with a markedly lower share of solicitors of BAME origin compared with the BAME share of the general population.

  • Representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups amongst PC holders rose to 16.5 per cent in 2017. The share of BAME practising solicitors exceeded the BAME population share in five out of the ten English and Welsh regions. Of those five, the largest differential was in the East Midlands.
  • Taken as a whole, London posted the second largest proportion of PC holders of BAME origin (18 per cent) –being overtaken in 2017 by the West Midlands (19 per cent).
  • However, the BAME share of practising solicitors is less than half the BAME share in London’s population.
  • The disparity for London is less marked when comparing the proportion of BAME PC holders with the BAME share in the workforce; 2011 Census data show that BAME groups made up 34 per cent of the workforce in London.

Over half of all new trainees located were in London, although 2016-17 numbers for the region were down 3 per cent on the year.

  • At 5,719 the number of trainee registrations in the year to 31 July 2017 remained static on 2016 figures.
  • Trainee placements in the City for 2016-17 stood at 33.6 per cent of all trainee placements.

In-house and in private practice

  • In 2017, the numbers of PC holders working both in-house and in private practice were higher than a year earlier.

Among private practice firms, the limited company structure continued to grow in popularity.

  • Partnerships, including sole practices, accounted for 45 per cent of firms - down from 60 per cent five years earlier.

Get a copy of the full report

The report is free for Law Society members. To request a copy, please email your name and SRA roll number to annualstatisticsreport@lawsociety.org.uk.

For non-members, the report is available from the Law Society bookshop, priced £99.