One in five solicitors working for corporate firms or large public sector bodies, says regulator

Five law firms had more than 1,500 solicitors working for them last year

The scale of the provision of legal services here by corporate law firms has been noted in the latest report from the sector’s regulator.

More than one in four (28 per cent) of practising solicitors here worked with a total of 20 employers in 2022, according to the report.

The main law firms and large public sector bodies, between them, accounted for 3,211 of the 11,652 solicitors practising certificates held in 2022, it noted.

Approximately one in five solicitors worked in the corporate or public “in-house” sector in 2022, it said. The total number of solicitors holding certificates and working in-house in 2022 was 2,605, or 22 per cent of the total 11,652.


More than 1,500 solicitors worked in 2022 with five law firms – A & L Goodbody LLP, Matheson LLP, Arthur Cox LLP, McCann Fitzgerald LLP and Mason Hayes & Curran LLP.

The Chief State Solicitors Office had 154 practising solicitors working in-house while the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had 99.

Published on Wednesday, the report is the fourth from the Legal Services Regulatory Authority concerning the admissions policies of the legal professions.

It discloses a slight growth of two and one per cent respectively in the number of those admitted to practice as solicitors and barristers last year.

A total of 11,652 solicitors held practising certificates by the end of 2022, up 239 (two per cent) from 2021. That followed two years of slight decreases from a 2019 figure of 11,959 practising certificates.

The regulator said this trend is “part of an ongoing correction following the short-lived Brexit-related phenomenon of large international law firms with no establishment in Ireland taking out Irish practising certificates for their solicitors”.

Since January 2021, the Law Society of Ireland only issues annual practising certificates to solicitors who are practising or intending to practise in Ireland from an establishment based in this jurisdiction.

The report discloses 560 trainee solicitors enrolled on the Society’s Professional Practice Course (PPC) in 2022, the highest intake of trainees in 15 years. Of 515 solicitors admitted to the roll in 2021, 307 (60 per cent) were newly qualified in Ireland and 134 (26 per cent) were qualified in England and Wales.

The number of barristers on the roll was 2,957 at the end of 2022, an increase of 24 (one per cent) from 2,933 in 2021.

Most – 2,173 (73 per cent) – were barristers practising as members of the Law Library. 92 new members joined the Law Library at the start of the new legal year in October 2022, down 10 in 2021.

According to the report, national skills data did not flag any supply shortages for the combined occupational group of barristers, judges, solicitors and related professionals, despite a slight decrease in the numbers employed in this group.

The economy and inflation were seen by many law firms in 2022 as key issues for the sector, followed by recruitment and retention issues. The ongoing internationalisation of the legal services market in Ireland had an impact in terms of competition, recruitment and retention and salary inflation.

The Law Society and Bar of Ireland had noted a generally increased demand for the services of practising solicitors and barristers in 2022 as Covid-19-related court backlogs generated demand and the economy rebounded. Last year saw “a waning of the joint impacts of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of number and patterns of admissions to the solicitors and barristers professions in Ireland”, the report stated.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times