Training contract numbers fall to lowest level since 1998

The number of training contracts registered in 2011-12 has fallen 10.5 per cent lower than the number in 2010-11 and 16 per cent lower than pre-recession figures.

In 2011-12, 4,869 training contracts were registered. By contrast, 5,441 were given in 2010-11 and 6,303 in 2006-07.

The figures, reported in the Law Society’s Annual Statistics Report, reveal that the number of training contracts is barely higher than when records began in 1998-99. In that year, 4,827 training contracts were registered.

Almost one in four trainee registrations in 2011-12 were for trainees from a black, asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, whereas 10 years ago, 20 per cent of trainee registrations were from BAME groups.

BAME solicitors comprise 13 per cent of the total number of solicitors although they are under-represented in London, relative to the make-up of London’s population.

The proportion of solicitors who are female has increased nine percentage points during the last decade, from 39.5 per cent in 2002 to 48.2 per cent today.

However, overall, numbers are up, with 165,971 solicitors on the roll this year, compared to 159,524 solicitors in 2011. This is a 4.4 per cent increase.

Despite decreases in the number of training contracts available, 5.5 per cent more applicants were accepted to read law nationwide than in 2011.

Of those applying to read law the majority of successful applicants were women. Almost twice as many women were accepted onto law courses as men, 13,007 compared with 7,765. More than one third of successful UK applicants (35.6 per cent) were from a BAME background.

Just 60 per cent of law graduates graduated with a first or upper second class degree, up from just over half one decade ago, suggesting that university admissions processes are out of sync with law firm recruitment techniques.

Allen & Overy threw away more money invested on trainees than any other top 20 UK firm, according to research by The Lawyer that shows that trainee attrition last year cost magic circle outfits more than £10m between them. (29 April 2013).