Too many lawyers? If there are, is this good or bad for consumers anyway?

Oct 04

Too many lawyers? If there are, is this good or bad for consumers anyway?

Solicitors are having a tough time generally, but who isn’t? Or is there more to it when it comes to solicitors?

We live in a free market economy – no-one forces anyone to become a lawyer, even if it takes 7 years and can cost tens of thousands of pounds and that’s without the fact that many students who gain degrees and then spend time and money at Law School actually don’t get training contracts at all and are in paralegal no man’s land for years thereafter, still hoping for an elusive training contract.

So, what are the facts?

Well certainly it’s true to say that there has been a huge increase in the number of qualified lawyers in England & Wales, as this article from the Guardian newspaper last year demonstrates. However, even with this rise, the UK has less lawyers per population than some other countries such as the US and Brazil and a significant number of qualified lawyers work in-house or in Government teams or specialize in criminal law. It is also clear from the Guardian data that the position is patchy. There are a lot of qualified solicitors in and around London and Manchester, but comparatively less in other parts of England & Wales, such as the Midlands or Wales. If you are from London or a qualified solicitor in London, you may a lot more reason to be concerned.

Consumers

Most consumers would probably say they don’t give a hoot about how many lawyers there are and many, rightly or wrongly, have a generally negative outlook towards solicitors. Others would say, great, the more competition there is in any market, the better for consumers, and that’s certainly, on a superficial basis, how it would appear in areas like conveyancing a house or flat, where the legal costs have, according to Darlingtons Solicitors in Edgware, literally not risen for 20 years and the market is cut throat.

However, when it comes to law and legal advice, you want to get the best, not just in terms of advice, but also service. When moving house, many transactions fall through due to delay and buying a property is the single biggest expense for most people in their lifetime. It’s not a great idea to assume that all lawyers are the same and that cheapest is best. As with most things, cheap can end up costing very dear. So, in this sense, the fact there are more and more solicitors available should be a reason for caution and to consider finding an established form with experienced lawyers with a demonstrable track record and references.