Scotland has more solicitors than ever

Court of Session, Parliament House, Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams

Court of Session, Parliament House, Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams

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MORE than 11,000 solicitors are practising in Scotland – an all-time high – new figures show.

Membership statistics released by the Law Society show there is now one solicitor for every 500 people in Scotland.

The body said increasing numbers of women are entering the profession, accounting for 49 per cent of solicitors overall.

More than two-thirds of all female solicitors are under the age of 45, compared to 43 per cent of male lawyers.

According to the Faculty of Advocates, 28 per cent of the 465 members of the Scottish Bar are women.

Alistair Morris, president of the Law Society, said: “I am very pleased that the legal profession in Scotland is continuing to grow and that so many young people see their future in law.

“The latest statistics are a good indicator of the improving health of the profession and that, despite the difficulties experienced by many as a result of the downturn, we are making progress as the economy recovers.

“Solicitors play a crucial role in our society and our economy, helping thousands of people and businesses with a wide spectrum of legal issues, from providing advice on buying or selling your home and assistance with writing a will that ensures loved ones are protected, to representing people in court and advising clients involved in multi-million pound contracts for global companies,” added Mr Morris.

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According to the Law Society, the average age of entry to the profession is now 26, while around 750 organisations around the world which are not law firms employ Scottish solicitors.

A third of solicitors are employed by large firms with ten or more partners, while 6 per cent of the profession are sole practitioners. About 28 per cent work in-house in both the private and public sectors, with the remainder working in smaller private firms.

The Scottish legal world has seen a number of mergers in recent times as larger firms look to consolidate their position.

In September, solicitors Bird Semple merged with Harper Macleod to create one of the country’s largest private client firms.

And in May, one of the country’s largest firms, Dundas & Wilson, joined international business CMS, which employs around 5,600 people in 32 countries.

The deals came after a report earlier this year from accountants BDO which said Scotland has too many lawyers, chasing declining fee income.

The study of law firms’ long-term performance found shrinking profits and a fall in fees between 2008 and 2013.

The report also showed that company revenue was being diluted by increasing staff numbers in law firms.

Last month, it emerged around 50 jobs would go at Tods Murray after it was bought out of administration by Shepherd and Wedderburn.

The deal for Tods Murray, which was founded in 1856, led to the transfer of 170 staff to Shepherd and Wedderburn.

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