Let's start with some facts: the NSW Law Society December 2005 Profile (pdf) says that of NSW's 20,276 solicitors 48.5% were under 39, 41% were female , 81.8% worked in the City or suburbs and 84% of firms were sole practitioners, with a further 13.2% of firms being 2-4 partners. 67.5% of solicitors are in private practice with 63.7% of those working in firms of 21+ partners.
The only other Law Society that publishes member profiles is the Queensland Law Society whose figures are generally similar, allowing for differences in the size and decentralisation of the State: of the QLS's 6000 members, 37% are under 39, 34% are female, 65% practice in Brisbane and the suburbs, 75% of firms are operated as sole practitioners.
So where is the profession going? The NSW Law Society has the answer: it has published a report entitled The Solicitors of New South Wales in 2015 (pdf).
It forecasts that :
"Sole practitioner firms are projected to grow from 81.5% of all firms in 2003 to 86.3% in 2015.
The total number of sole practitioners would grow from 3,036 to 3,824 over this period.
Firms with 2 to 4 partners are projected to fall from 15.6% of all firms in 2003 to 11.5% in 2015;
the number of firms in this category would drop from 582 to 511."
So even though most solicitors work in big firms, most firms are small firms and solos: that gives us plenty to think about! And what about the other professions?