The sector contracted over the period 2011 and 2016, with a reduction of around 4,500 persons employed in the area. Of all occupational groups, this was the most severe reduction.
The sector encompasses two relatively distinct areas, with most people working in the sector involved in public administration and defence, the remainder operate in professional, technical and scientific roles, for example those in law and legal services.
One occupational group that grew between 2011 to 2016 was that of Barristers, judges, solicitors and related professionals, with moderate growth, of 1.2% speeding to an annual average of 11.8% between 2015 and 2016.
Figure 1: This chart displays the changes in employment in selected legal and security occupations over two time periods, highlighting the changing trends as three out of four occupations change from negative or static growth to positive growth. Data from National Skills Bulletin, 2017. SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit.
However, in all other legal and security occupations there were declines in average annual employment growth. For example, army personnel fell 5.4% per year on average and Gardai fell 4.7% per year on average.
Following from the National Skills Bulletin, 2017
Key points for selected legal and security occupations
- In 2016, there were approximately 37,500 persons employed in legal and security occupations, representing 1.9% of Ireland’s workforce
- Two thirds of overall employment was concentrated in public administration and defence, while a further one quarter was in professional, scientific and technical activities
- Over the period 2011 to 2016, overall employment levels in legal and security occupations contracted (by 2.2% on average annually, or 4,500 persons); this was the strongest rate of decline of the 17 occupational groups examined
- Over the five-year period, employment contracted in all occupations, excluding barristers, judges, solicitors and related professionals; the strongest declines (in absolute and relative terms) were observed for army personnel (5.3% on average annually) and Gardaí (4.7% on average annually)
- Between 2015 and 2016, employment increased by 5.8% (compared to a 2.9% increase nationally); employment levels for most occupations changed marginally with 2,000 new jobs created over the period
- Over four fifths of persons employed in legal and security occupations was aged 25-54; one quarter of employed barristers, judges, solicitors and related professionals was 55 or older
- Almost all persons employed as legal professionals (i.e. barristers, judges, solicitors and related legal professionals) had attained third level qualifications; the corresponding share was 42% for employed army personnel and 53% for protective service workers; 18% of employed army personnel and 12% of protective services workers had attained lower secondary or less qualification
- While employment in most occupations was predominantly male, this was not the case for barristers, judges, solicitors and related professionals (57% female)
- Most persons employed in the selected occupations worked full-time and were Irish-nationals
There were 11,900 legal professionals (including judges, barristers and solicitors) employed in Ireland in 2016. The demand for law graduates is not confined to the legal profession alone and there is a need for legal expertise across various business and industry sectors, particularly in relation to compliance in sectors such as aviation, finance (antifraud), security and data analytics/protection issues. With over 1,700 law graduates from NFQ level 8 and above courses in 2015, the supply from the education and training system appears to be sufficient.
Nonetheless, the Recruitment Agency Survey has identified an increased demand for corporate, taxation, compliance and merger lawyers.