The number of practising solicitors across England and Wales has fallen – but risen in Yorkshire.
The latest Annual Statistics Report from the Law Society showed that the number of practising certificate (PC) holders linked to a named organisation in July, 2013, stood at 127,676 – some 0.9% down on July, 2012.
The total number of PC holders has almost tripled since the current statistical series began in 1983, but rates of growth have slowed since the late 1990s.
Yorkshire had 7,864 PC holders in July last year – up on the figure of 7,856 in the same month the previous year and well up on the total of 6,269 for July, 2003.
The report said the long term trend across the country was one of growth for the in-house sector – but principally in commerce and industry, which accounts for 11.6% of all PC holders.
Among other findings, the report said younger solicitors are more likely to be female – with women representing about six out of 10 PC holders aged 35 and under. Black and Asian and minority ethnic groups represent 13.1% of PC holders.
A total of 9,807 private practices were registered in July, 2013 – the lowest level recorded since a change was made to the way in which firms are counted in 2007. Yorkshire had 699 firms in July, 2013.
Desmond Hudson, Law Society chief executive, said: “Change and competition within the legal sector is intensifying and this is having a major impact on many businesses.
“An improvement in the economy has not yet fed through to all solicitors and many smaller firms are struggling in the wake of fundamental changes in areas of work such as legal aid, civil justice and family law.
“The Law Society is helping solicitors and their practices adapt to the regulatory and management challenges so that they can continue to provide high quality legal advice that makes a positive contribution to businesses, the public and the rule of law in England and Wales.”
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