8667.0 - Legal Practices, Australia, 2001-02  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/06/2003   
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June 25, 2003
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Legal profession generates $10,600 million in income

Legal practices and organisations generated $10,600m in income, and contributed 1.1% to the Australian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the period 2001-2002, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Of the $10,600m in income, Government solicitor and public prosecutor organisations contributed $414m, legal aid authorities $326m and patent attorney practices $288m.

In 2001-2002, there were 36,000 legal practitioners employing 58,000 staff within the 11,000 legal services practices and organisations across Australia.

Of the 36,000 legal practitioners:
  • 29,000 worked in private solicitor practices;
  • 3,700 were barristers working in their own practice; and
  • 3,300 were employed by government solicitor or public prosecutor offices, legal aid authorities, or community legal centres.

Barrister practices experienced higher operating profit margins than solicitor practices, 66.5% and 29.7% respectively.

In 2001-2002 (see Media Note):
  • 2.3 million hours of pro bono work was undertaken by solicitor and barrister practices;
  • Legal practitioners working in small solicitor practices (one principal/partner) undertook an average of 99 hours each of pro bono work;
  • Legal practitioners in large solicitor practices, (ten or more principals/partners) undertook an average of 20 hours each of pro bono work; and
  • 62.8% of all solicitor practices undertook pro bono work, compared to 78.4% of all barrister practices.

Further information is in Legal Practices, Australia, 2001-02 (cat. no. 8667.0).

Media Note: Pro bono figures should be used with caution, legal practices generally did not maintain records in this area and therefore estimated its value.