The Law Society has reported greater access and reduced barriers to the solicitors’ profession in Ireland for trainees across diverse educational, professional and socio-economic backgrounds.
The Law Society’ publication of the Annual Report on Admission Policies of the Legal Professions 2021 signifies its commitment towards a more diverse and accessible profession reflective of modern Irish society.
In the report, the Law Society has noted key indicators of a progressive, thriving and diverse solicitors’ profession:
- There were 22,945 solicitors on the Irish Roll of Solicitors as of 31 December 2021. In all, 54% of the 876 solicitors admitted to the Roll in 2021 were women,
- The Law Society’s Professional Practice Courses (PPC) have the highest intake of trainees in ten years, providing evidence of a healthy training market. In total across the PPC 1, PCC 2 and PPC Hybrid courses, there are 1,042 trainees in the system,
- 538 new trainees started the two-year process of qualification in 2021 (PPC 1) – the largest intake of trainees since 2008. At 61%, women are in the majority of new trainees compared with 39% of men,
- 109 trainees are now attending the flexible PPC Hybrid course, representing a 50% increase compared with 2020,
- 184 individuals are currently participating on the Law Society’s Access Scholarship Scheme, which provides financial support throughout the training period,
- Since launching in 2020, the Law Society’s Small Practice Traineeship Grant has provided €250,000 to enable aspiring solicitors to undertake their training contact in their local communities. To date, this grant has been awarded to ten trainees.
Chair of the Law Society’s Education Committee, Richard Hammond SC said, “The Law Society is dedicated to delivering world-class professional legal education to develop 21st century solicitors who can meet and exceed the demands of competing in a globalised Ireland.
“With the largest intake of trainees recorded since 2008, our new report reveals clear indications that pathways to becoming a solicitor are increasingly accessible.”
The public interest is best served when the legal professions reflect the diversity in Irish society, he added.
Since 2018, the Law Society has strategically worked to implement the recommendations of the Peart Commission Report to help achieve this, with the development of innovative structures to improve access.
"We are achieving this through flexible training options such as the PPC Hybrid course, and providing practical and financial supports through our various grant schemes. We will continue to streamline our training model with a fused PPC offering, commencing in 2022," said Mr Hammond.
Reaching young people through Public Legal Education initiatives remains a core part of Law Society’s work, ensuring access to law for young people who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to consider a legal career.
“Ultimately, the current status and profile of the trainees attending the Law Society, shared in the Annual Report on Admission Policies of the Legal Professions 2021, signifies an exciting new era as we continue to make significant progress to advance diversity and access to the solicitors’ profession," Richard Hammond added.
“The growing demand for talent, when coupled with the upward trend in new trainee solicitors added to the Irish Roll of Solicitors each year, demonstrate that the admission policies of the legal professions are, as they must be, consistent with the public interest.
“The Law Society is encouraged by this report and reaffirms its commitment to the ongoing development of ground-breaking legal education and training in Ireland,” the Education Committee chair concluded.