We had better start this post by saying that of course lawyers are not called solicitors in most countries except in the UK and some commonwealth countries.
The word solicitors is generally used in other countries to mean cold callers, so it’s a bit ironic that the term already has somewhat unhelpful connotations aside from the fact that it may relate to lawyers, who are not always the most popular of people anyway !
Other thing to clarify is that England & Wales is different and separate in terms oif regulation of lawyers than Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It is clear that there has been an explosion in the number of qualified lawyers in England & Wales in the last 20 years as is clearly shown by this excellent piece in the Guardian from last year. Most lawyers will tell you that there are now simply too many lawyers and that this is not necessarily a good thing for consumers, whether clients seeking commercial legal advice or personal injury or a range of personal law assistance. This is because small firms are being driven out of bussiness and law could become something you get in supermarket, which isn’t ideal.
It also means there are desperate costs wars in areas like conveyancing advice, where unknowing clients will believe, understandably, that the cheaper they can get the advice the better. Often what actually happens is you get poor advice, papers not read properly and bad service.
So, in reality, are there more lawyers per head of population in the Uk than in other countries ?
According to an answer we found on a forum board, which we cannot verify, in fact, whilst the UK does now have have a lot of lawyers per population, bearing in mind most people don’t use a lawyer very often, we do not have the highest rates, as can be seen from the below :-
Country Lawyers Population People/Lawyer
USA – Lawyers over 1,140,000 with a population of just over 30o million = 1 lawyer for approx 265 people
Brazil – Lawyers over 570,000 with a population of just over 186 million = 1 lawyer for every 325 people
New Zealand – Lawyers over 10,500 with a population of just over 4 million = 1 lawyer for every 390 people
Spain – Lawyers over 114,000 with a population of 45 million = 1 lawyer for 395 people
Italy – Lawyers over 121,000 with a population of just under 60 million = 1 lawyer for every 490 people
UK – Lawyers over 150,000 with a population of just over 61 million – 1 lawyer for every 400 people
Germany – Lawyers: around 140,000 with a population of 82 million = 1 lawyer for every 590 people
France – Lawyers around 45,000 from a population of around 64 million = 1 lawyer for every 1,400 people
As can be seen from the above, France has less lawyers per population than other European countries. What is perhaps different is the very rapid increase in the Uk and the change in perceptions this has caused and frankly panic by many small law firms. For example, as regards buying or selling of property, in Continental Europe most lawyers will charge a percentage of the price, just like estate agents.
In the UK, on a house sale of say £200,000.00 you may well pay £3,000.00 plus VAT or more for your estate agents fees but only £500.00 plus vat for your a lawyer. As this is the same rate as it was about 20 years ago, it seems the impact of the massive increase in lawyers in the Uk may be a lot more significant than in other countries.
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