The number of lawyers on the list reaches a record high

The number of registered solicitors hit a record high in 2021, while a record number of students graduated with law degrees, a new report from the Law Society of England and Wales has revealed.

Our 2021 Annual Statistical Report was launched today (September 21).

Key findings for 2021 include:

  • In the twelve months to July 31, 2021, the number of lawyers with a certificate of practice (PC holders) reached 153,282, an increase of 2% compared to the previous year
  • A record number was also reported for lawyers on the docket reaching 209,215, an increase of 3% over the previous year.
  • The number of female CP holders has increased three times faster than the number of males; women now represent 53% of the workforce practicing the profession
  • Representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnicities continued to grow, reaching 18% of those with known ethnicity
  • The proportion of lawyers working in-house has increased to 25%, a steady average increase of 1% each year (this is still a likely underestimate as some PC holders are not officially registered as working in-house )
  • The number of undergraduate law students graduating from universities in England and Wales in 2021 was the highest on record at 18,927. 81% of these graduates graduated with a first or upper second class degree
  • The median age of male and female PC owners has increased by one year, bringing the median ages to 46 and 40 respectively in 2021
  • The number of businesses in England and Wales has steadily declined over the past five years, reaching 9,020 in 2021
  • A third of corporate headquarters closures result from mergers and changes in legal entity status

“This report has been compiled over more than 30 years and provides a comprehensive picture of how the legal profession has evolved over the long term in terms of size and structure,” said Law Society President I. Stephanie. Boyce.

“It provides an authoritative record of the number of lawyers and the type of organizations in which they work.

“As a corporate lawyer myself, it is encouraging to see that lawyers employed internally by organisations, ranging from the FTSE and private companies to local authorities, now make up a quarter of the profession.

“It is also encouraging to see the number of women working in the profession and of people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

“However, there is still work to be done to increase the representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic and lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as to increase the number of women in the senior ranks of the profession.

“The decline in the number of firms also highlights the need for widespread investment in our justice system, including legal aid tariffs, to ensure lawyers are available when needed.

Notes to Editors

  • See the full report
  • Part 1 of the report examines qualified lawyers, the sectors and entities in which they work
  • Part 2 covers the development and entry of new lawyers, including the number of law graduates, training contracts and admission to practice through various routes
  • More information on the diversity of the profession can be found in our Diversity Report, which was last published in 2020

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body working globally to support and represent lawyers, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100