The number of trainees in England and Wales rose by 5 per cent in 2015/16.
According to The Law Society’s Annual Statistical report, there were 5,728 new trainees registered, an increase from 5,457 the previous year.
It is the first time since 2007/08 that the number of training contracts has risen two years in a row, and marks the highest number of new trainees in a year since 2008/09.
That year, the number of training contracts reached an all-time high of 6,303, but there was a slump after the 2008 credit crunch. The most recent low was in 2009/10 when just 4,784 were registered.
The number of in-house training contracts on offer rose to 229, up 3.6 per cent on 2015, and 143 per cent on 2006, when just 94 in-house positions were offered.
The report also revealed that overall, women make up 63 per cent of law graduates, and outperform male law students academically. Some 13 per cent of women achieve a first in their law degree and a further 58 per cent gain a 2:1. Only 11.7 per cent of men get a first and 54.6 per cent get a 2:1.
There has been a rise in the proportion of solicitors who come from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. They now make up 16 per cent of the profession. Law Society president Robert Bourns said: “Increasing diversity in the solicitor profession is a powerful force for good and a cause for real celebration. Not only do solicitors themselves come from an ever widening pool – reflecting the diverse society of which we are part and which we serve – but new business models are flourishing, allowing us to provide an ever more tailored service to our clients.
“However, the gender and ethnicity gap at more senior levels continues: more than 40 per cent of male solicitors become partners – compare that to less than 20 per cent of women and just over 20 per cent of BAME solicitors.”