Over the past nine years (2011 to 2020) there has been a 45% increase in the number of solicitors practising in Australia. Is that a lot?

Over the same period Australia’s population has grown by 17%. The increase in the number of solicitors has outpaced general population growth more than 2.5 times.

This month, Urbis released its Fifth National Profile Report on the demographics of solicitors in Australia. This report represents a snap shot as at 2020. Previous reports were released for 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

67% of solicitors worked in private practice. The number of private practice solicitors increased by 30% in the nine years. This is closer to double the country’s population growth.

The number of solicitors in corporate legal departments have grown by 82% since 2011. Government solicitors by 88%.

At the national level more than half of all solicitors were female (53%).

Over the past nine years, the growth rate of female solicitors (+67%) has been higher than that of male solicitors (+26%), further indicating that more women are entering the profession – according to the report authors.

Female solicitors outnumber male solicitors in the government legal (68%), corporate legal (60%) and community legal sectors (71%); and comprise just under half of solicitors in private practice (48%).

The mean age of Australian solicitors (42 years) has remained relatively consistent over the past nine years, due to the growth in the number of younger solicitors entering the profession.

Number of Private Practices has decreased since 2018

As at October 2020, there were 16,393 private law practices in Australia, down from 16,435 in 2018. This does not appear to be a material reduction.

In fact, combined with the increase in the number of solicitors overall, it implies that there has been an increase in the number of employed lawyers in practices.  

Most were sole practices or law practices with one principal (82%), followed by law practices with two to four principals (10%).

In 2020, more than half of all solicitors were practising in a city-based location (53%), a third were practising in a suburban location (34%) and one in ten were practising in a country/rural location (10%).

Full report available here