Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Facts and figures

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What is happening in the legal services market? As we enter this period of major change, it may be helpful to have some base data against which future developments may be measured. I have been looking at the webpages of the Legal Education and Training Review.
With their permission I have extracted the following information (together with references to the sources):

  • The UK legal services sector employs nearly 350,000 people
  • Legal services contribute 1.8% of Britain’s GDP
  • Between 2000 and 2010 invisible exports by law firms have tripled in value to £2.9bn
  • In 2009/10 there were 117,862 solicitors and 15,270 barristers in practice, together with some 22,000 trainee and practising legal executives in England and Wales
  • In 2009/10 women made up 45.9% of solicitors with practising certificates (and about a fifth of the partners at the ‘top 100′ law firms)
  • In 2009/10 women constituted 34.4% of the Bar (including 11% of Queen’s Counsel)
  • 11.1% of solicitors and 10.1% of barristers in practice are from black and minority ethnic groups
  • In 2010 1.7% of firms employed 41.6% of solicitors in private practice
  • There were 4,874 new training contracts registered in 2009/10, a decrease of 16% on the previous year.
  • In the same year 11,370 full time and 3,140 part-time Legal Practice Course places were available.
  • 460 ‘First Six’ pupillages were registered in 2009/10, a decrease of 0.6%; 1,432 students had passed the Bar Professional Training Course in 2008/09
  • 13,433 students graduated with Qualifying Law Degrees in the summer of 2009
  • Over half (56.6%) of the QLD graduates in 2009 received first or upper second class degrees.
  • ILEX has 19,176 members
  • 73% of ILEX members are female
  • In 2009 there were 29,211 applicants to study for a first degree in law in England and Wales; slightly over two-thirds of these were accepted.


Office of National Statistics

Bar Barometer: Trends in the Profile of the Bar, (General Council of the Bar/Bar Standards Board, March 2011)

Institute of Legal Executives

Trends in the Solicitors’ Profession: Annual Statistical Report 2010, (The Law Society, 2010).

Those starting out on the study of law need to reflect on the implications of this information. In particular the gap between the numbers of training contracts and pupillages available and the numbers reaching the stage when they can qualify for a training contract/pupillage.

One of the reasons why I emphasise the ‘holistic’ approach to thinking about Law and the Legal System in my book is that students who want to use their studies in some practical context need to think beyond the traditional professional boundaries of solicitor and barrister.

For further information about the Legal Education and Training Review see


Written by lwtmp

February 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Chapter 9

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