Ireland has too many lawyers for its population and many younger lawyers are leaving the Law Library after five to 10 years there, according to the first independent review of the profession here.
While most lawyers surveyed reported downward pressure on their incomes, mainly due to Covid-19 restrictions, most, 60 percent, see a future for themselves in the profession.
The Council of the Bar of Ireland, which has commissioned consultants EY to conduct the assessment in 2021 to help plan for the future in the changing legal landscape, released the report Friday.
Bar Association president Maura McNally said the goal of this “necessary” independent analysis was to understand changes in the legal services industry and see “where the opportunities can be nurtured and explored”.
Of the review’s 51 recommendations, including for improving diversity, inclusion, education and marketing of the profession, several are already being highlighted, she said.
The council disagrees with a core recommendation that senior and junior counsel and apprentices work together in non-commercial groups, but says discussions on the independent one-person business model will continue.
There are 2,852 qualified lawyers, 45 per 100,000 inhabitants in Ireland, of whom 2,124 are members of the Law Library. Comparative jurisdictions average 25 attorneys per 100,000 people, and EY considered 1,515 a conservative fit for the Law Library.
The survey found that lawyers face serious challenges, including an unbalanced division of labor, fees as low as €25 per day in district court criminal justice cases, problems with lawyers’ compensation and an increasingly competitive market for legal services.
On the plus side, it found potential here for expansion of legal services, noting that three out of four members of the public have a positive view of the profession and that key government agencies believe it is good value for money.