The legal profession is interested in its inflow, without worrying about its outflow, which
may seem paradoxical; the graduates are its future prescribers, its next judges, its regulators,
and, in any event, the narrators of a story about the profession. In addition, the growing number of entrants
may raise the question of leaving and returning to the profession in the future.
In fact, while 30% of lawyers leave the profession 20 years after taking the oath and the
Paris Bar loses 3% of its lawyers each year, the departure from the profession still appears to be
an unrecognized subject. In common mythology, being a lawyer is a vocation, seen as
the commitment of a lifetime.
Also, is there no data to determine which professions lawyers go to?
redirect. Nor is it possible to determine whether they make a better living after leaving
profession or if they feel more fulfilled elsewhere than in their original body.
For example, in Paris, lawyers do not justify their requests for voluntary omissions,
limiting to ticking the box “personal convenience” in a standard form.
1.1 ) A reality that is difficult to grasp
However, some data allow us to apprehend the departure of lawyers to (a) departments
legal and (b) the judiciary, some lawyers still leaving the dress for other professions,
legal or not (c). Figures are also available on the return of lawyers within the
profession (d). Finally, there is the question of the territorial mobility of the lawyer, in France as well as in
(a) The departure of lawyers to legal departments
According to the latest 2016 figures from the AFJE and the Cercle Montesquieu, 28% of legal departments
have more than a quarter of their workforce of French lawyers holding CAPA.
There is a clear increase in the number of CAPA holders within legal departments by
compared to 201244. Lawyers are leaving the profession to turn to the largest organizations45.
CAPA holders receive 25% more remuneration on average than lawyers
However, the available data do not allow us to determine the duration of professional experience
median of CAPA holders in legal departments. These CAPA holders are
likely to have been recruited at the end of their studies, without even having taken an oath.
It will be observed that according to a study by the EFB, a large number of student lawyers are in fact considering
leave the profession within 5 years of being registered on the roll47. Above all, a majority of
lawyers no longer envision a linear career, but a diversified career path: thus, 68.73% of student lawyers questioned by the CNB’s Prospective Commission think they exercise a profession other than that
lawyer during their career48.
(b) The departure of lawyers to the judiciary
Currently, Ordinance No. 58-1270 of December 22, 1958 on the Organic Law on
the statute of the judiciary provides several gateways from which lawyers can benefit to integrate
the judiciary: (i) appointment as judicial auditor49; (ii) direct integration into
functions outside the hierarchy50; (iii) recruitment as magistrates working on a temporary basis51;
(iv) direct appointment to the functions of non-hierarchical magistrates; (v) appointment as
adviser or advocate general at the Court of Cassation in extraordinary service52.
Between 2015 and 2016, the Advancement Committee in charge of giving opinions within the framework of these
gateways has favored the inclusion of lawyers in the judiciary in at least
– among the candidates for appointment as judicial auditor having received a favorable opinion,
23% are lawyers or student lawyers53, or 21 people;
– among candidates for direct integration who have received a favorable opinion before probationary period,
35% are lawyers, or 75 people54;
– among the candidates for appointment as a judge on a temporary basis who have received an opinion
favorable from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, more than 50% are lawyers, i.e. 3 people.
To our knowledge, there is no public data to assess the number of lawyers
candidates for gateways to the judiciary, as well as the number of lawyers ultimately integrating the
There is no more public data making it possible to know their functional assignment and
geographical area and to verify the adequacy of these with the specialties that the lawyers had
In any event, even supposing them to be available, these data would not give a true picture
the number of lawyers wishing to join the judiciary, for at least two reasons.
On the one hand, these gateways are subject to strict admissibility conditions, linked to age and
the professional experience of lawyers.
On the other hand, candidates wishing to enter the judiciary must accept, without having the slightest
guarantee as to their future assignment, to interrupt their professional activities, the time of their
selection or their training. More particularly, direct integration into the judiciary, after notice
favorable from the Advancement Committee, is subject to a 6-month probationary period.
(c) The departure of lawyers to other professions, legal or not
There is no data to determine the number of lawyers moving towards
professions – legal or not – other than company lawyers or magistrates. We know that there are
gateways to other legal professions, allowing passage to professions such as
In addition, a number of former lawyers are regularly recruited within the
administrations, especially within regulators such as the Autorité des marchés financiers or
the Competition Authority.
Finally, some former lawyers devote themselves to completely different professions, which no longer have anything to do with
see with the law; actors, communicators, lobbyists, artisans …
(d) The return of the lawyers
The return of lawyers is more easily measured, thanks to data relating to re-enrollment in the
board. In Paris, the number of returns was 176 in 2015.