There was a 9 per cent rise in the number of trainees in 2014-15, according to the latest Annual Statistical Report published by the Law Society.
The number of training contracts registered rose to 5,457 – up from 5,001 the previous year.
One third (33.8 per cent) of all training contracts are based in the City, with the rest of London accounting for a further 17.7 per cent.
While private practice accounts for over 90 per cent of all training contracts, the number of traineeships on offer in commerce and industry rose from 185 to 221 in 2014/15.
Some 8.3 per cent of trainees are now outside private practice, compared to 6.9 per cent the year before.
Large firms – those with with 26 or more partners – offered around half (49.4 per cent) of all training contracts. However, those firms offered 54.9 per cent of training contracts in 2013/14, suggesting a recovery in trainee numbers among smaller firms.
Trainee numbers at firms with two to four partners rose by 20 per cent, while firms with five to 10 partners recorded 45 per cent growth.
The number of training contracts reached a high of 6,303 in 2007/08 but slumped after the 2008 credit crunch. The most recent low was in 2009/10 when just 4,784 were registered.
The Law Society’s data also showed that a record 22,320 students were accepted on to undergraduate law degrees in 2015/16 – up from 21,775 the previous year. Of the 17,335 acceptances from UK-based applicants, two-fifths came from a non-white background.
In total 15,431 students graduated with a law degree from universities in England and Wales in 2015, down 4 per cent from 2014, but up 28 per cent on 2005.