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Almost 20,000 earning living from the law

02 Jan 2019 / employment Print

Almost 20,000 earning living from private law

There were 4,655 active legal enterprises in operation in Ireland in 2016, according to figures just released by the CSO.

There were 191 ‘legal enterprise births’ the same year, the stats show.

Almost 20,000 people are employed in the sector with 14,123 workers in paid employment and the remainder categorised as owners/employers.

There were 226 people working in the 191 legal start-ups, in 2016 with 44 paid employees.

The legal activities classification  does specifically exclude Justice and judicial activities which is the public administration of justice, a CSO spokesman confirmed.


Persons engaged in a business include employees, proprietors and family members. ‘Persons engaged’ is the sum of employees and working proprietors under CSO classification.

Employees are paid a fixed wage or salary. 


Employees are calculated using an annual employment return received from Revenue. This return contains all registered employers and the number of employees they have paid a wage or salary for in a reference year.

The file can contain individuals paid a wage by an employer as well as self-employed individuals who pay themselves a working wage. 

An individual may be counted more than once for a reference year if they work multiple jobs in that reference year. 

The annual employment return from Revenue contains persons at work or temporarily absent because of illness, holidays, strike etc.  

Segment of year

If an individual is paid a wage for any segment of a reference year they are included in the overall figures.

Legal activities cover all of the following activities: advice and representation in civil cases, advice and representation in criminal cases , advice and representation in labour disputes , advocate , arbitrators legal activities, articles of incorporation, attorney , bailiffs activities , barrister (own account) , copyrights preparation , deeds preparation, law agent, law writing, legal activities n.e.c. , legal counsel, legal documentation and certification activities, legal draughtsman, legal examiner activities, legal services in connection with the disposal of assets by auction, notaries activities, notary public activities , parliamentary agent, patent agent, patents preparation, preparation of legal documents, process server, public notary, referees (legal) activities, scrivenery, searching legal documents, sheriff's officer, software copyright consultancy activities, solicitor (own account), trademark agent, trusts preparation, writer to the signet, lawyer (own account), partnership agreements, wills preparation. 

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