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8678.0 - Legal and Accounting Services, Australia, 1995-96  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/11/1997   
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November 10, 1997
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Legal profits steady, accounting industry grows

At the end of June last year, Australia's 9,796 legal practices had an operating profit margin of almost 32 per cent, according to information released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

And the nation's 8,389 accounting practices, while not as profitable with a 19.6 per cent operating profit margin, experienced an almost 20 per cent boost in income and a 10 per cent increase in employment between June 1993 and June 1996.

These and other details are contained in the ABS's publication Legal and Accounting Services, Australia, 1995-96. Summary details are as follows:

Legal services industry. The 9,796 legal practices represented an 11 per cent increase in the number of practices since June 1993. In this period the number of solicitor practices increased by 15 per cent to 6,403 and the number of barrister practices by 5 per cent to 3,350. In terms of total employment, 95 per cent of these practices were small (employing less than 20 people).

These practices generated $5,591 million in income in 1995-96 with commercial, finance and business services legal work ($1,785 million) and property conveyancing ($683 million) being the major sources of this income. The industry recorded an operating profit before tax of $1,750 million, which represented an operating profit margin of 31.5 per cent, a small decrease on the 32.6 per cent recorded in 1992-93.

There were 67,494 people employed in the industry at the end of June 1996, of which 27,000 were qualified barristers or solicitors. Eighty-one percent of employment was on a full-time basis with females accounting for 83 per cent of part-time employment. Labour costs of $1,906 million represented about half of practice expenses.

Accounting services industry. The 8,389 accounting practices generated $4,939 million in income during 1995-96 and employed 66,792 people at the end of June 1996. Since 1993 this represents an increase in income of about 20 per cent and an increase in employment of about 10 per cent.

The three main sources of income for these practices were from taxation services ($1,575 million), general business and personal accounting services ($1,312 million) and auditing services ($896 million). The industry recorded an operating profit before tax of $829 million which represented an operating profit margin of 19.4 per cent, down slightly from the 20.5 per cent noted in June 1993.

Of the 66,792 people employed in the industry, 36,694 were qualified accountants. Eighty-three per cent of employment was on a full-time basis, with 74 per cent of support staff working full-time. Females accounted for 79 per cent of the part-time employment.

Details are in Legal and Accounting Services Industry, Australia 1995-96 (cat. no. 8678.0) available from ABS bookshops.

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