Proctor : August 2019
31 PROCTOR | August 2019 Years since admission In 2018, two-fifths of all solicitors had been admitted for 15 years or more (39%), while one in 10 had been admitted for less than a year (9%). Nearly one fifth of all solicitors had been admitted for either two to five years or six to 10 years (19% and 18% respectively). When comparing across jurisdictions, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had the largest proportions of solicitors admitted for one year or less (12% each), while South Australia and New South Wales had the largest proportions of solicitors admitted for 15 years or more (45% and 42% respectively). In 2018, more than half of all female solicitors had been admitted for 10 years or less (53%), compared to only a third of all male solicitors (37%). This is consistent with the observed greater representation of female solicitors in the younger age brackets compared to males. There was a lower proportion of solicitors admitted for 15 years or more working in government legal (33%), compared to private practice (41%) and corporate legal (40%). Within private practice, larger firms tended to have a greater proportion of solicitors admitted for five years or less compared to smaller firms. The profile of years since admission remained relatively stable between 2016 and 2018. However, since 2011 the proportion of solicitors admitted for 10 years or less has steadily declined, while the proportion of solicitors admitted for 11 years or more has steadily increased. Employment sector In 2018, the majority of solicitors in Australia were working in private practice (69%), followed by corporate legal (15%) and government legal (12%). This pattern was consistent across most jurisdictions, with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory (where government legal was the dominant sector) and the Northern Territory (where most solicitors worked in ‘other’ sectors, including community legal). Government legal was the most female- dominant sector, with two thirds of all solicitors being female (66%). Conversely, females were outnumbered in private practice, representing only 47% of all solicitors. All main employment sectors have experienced growth since 2011, including +61% both in the corporate legal sector and in the government legal sector. Private practice grew by 23%. Private law firms In 2018, a majority of private practice firms were sole practitioners or firms with one principal (79%), followed by firms with two to four partners (7%). Higher proportions In addition, more than half of all solicitors working in the Australian Capital Territory were working in suburban locations (53%), a higher proportion than in other jurisdictions. Consistent with the national gender profile, there were more females than males working across most employment location types. The exceptions were ‘country/rural’ and ‘overseas’, where the gender split was more even. Young lawyers (solicitors admitted for five years or less) were slightly more concentrated in city-based locations compared to all lawyers in the profession (58% compared to 54%). Conversely, a smaller proportion of young lawyers were working in suburban areas (29%), compared to all solicitors (32%). It is worth noting that young female lawyers were most strongly represented in country/ rural areas, making up 65% of all young lawyers working in these areas. The employment location type with the strongest growth in solicitor numbers between 2011 and 2018 was ‘suburban’ (up 61%) followed by ‘city’ (up 36%). The number of solicitors working interstate areas and overseas remained relatively stable between 2016 and 2018 after strong growth since 2011. of single principal firms were observed in Queensland (88%), South Australia (84%) and New South Wales (82%). Of all private practice solicitors in 2018, more than one third were employed in single principal firms (38%), followed by those working in firms of two to four partners (14%). One in 10 private practice solicitors were working in firms with 40 or more partners (10%). In Queensland, 50% of private practice solicitors were employed in firms with a single principal, 20% in firms of two to four partners, 8% in firms of five to ten partners and 22% in firms of more than ten partners. Employment location In 2018, more than half of all solicitors were practising in a city-based location (54%), a third were practising in a suburban location (32%), and 10% were practising in a country/ rural location. Only 4% were practising interstate or overseas. When looking across jurisdictions, Tasmania had the highest proportion of solicitors working in cities (83%), and the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of solicitors working in country/rural areas (19%). THE PROFESSION Graphical illustrations are based on data in the 2018 National Profile of Solicitors prepared by Urbis. 1% NT QLD 15% 7% 5% 43% 26% 3% 1% NSW WA SA QLD (+26%) (+9%) (+7%) (+39%) (+33%) TAS VIC (+32%) (+62%) (+67%) ACT 1% NT DISTRIBUTION OF THE PROFESSION Figures indicate the percentage of the national total; figures in brackets show change since 2011.