8667.0 - Legal Services, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/2009   
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June 24, 2009 Embargoed 11.30am (AEST) 41/2009

Legal services contribute $11 billion to Australian Economy

Australian legal services contributed $11 billion to the Australian economy and generated $18 billion in income in 2007/08, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Income from legal and legal support services accounted for approximately 91% of all total income generated. Government funding accounted for a further 6% of total income.

In total, there were 15,326 legal services businesses and organisations operating at the end of June 2008. Of these, barristers accounted for one quarter (25%), while 73% were other legal services businesses, including solicitor, patent attorney, notary, conveyancing and title searching businesses. The remaining businesses and organisations comprised of legal aid commissions, community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, government solicitors and public prosecutors.

Legal services employed 99,696 persons in Australia. Of these employees:
    • 5,154 worked in barrister businesses;
    • 84,921 worked in other legal services businesses; and
    • 9,622 were employed in government solicitor or public prosecutors offices, legal aid commissions, community legal centres and Aboriginal legal services

In addition to paid employees there were 4,474 volunteers in community legal centres and Aboriginal legal services organisations throughout June 2008.

Barristers had higher profit margins relative to other legal services, approximately 73% and 31% respectively. Senior counsel barristers had an profit margin of 76%, whereas Junior counsel barristers had an operating profit margin of 71%.

In 2007/08, barristers and other legal services provided 955,400 hours on pro bono work. Other legal services accounted for approximately 800,400 of these hours. In addition to pro bono work, barristers and other legal services provided 2,142,400 hours on work referred to them by legal aid commissions. This represents an average of 56 hours per practising barrister or solicitor during the 2007/08 financial year.

Further information is available in Legal Services, Australia 2007-08 (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.
  • Please ensure when reporting on ABS data that you attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.