SOCIOLOGY OF THE LAWYER PROFESSION

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The legal profession has evolved considerably over the past two decades, seeing its
staff doubled and experiencing constant annual growth of around 4%, with a
significant feminization rate which has crossed the 55% mark.
Evolution of the workforce in the profession between December 31, 1996 and December 31, 20151
It is a young profession, 45% of its members are under 40 and 75% under 50, who
has a very high concentration in Paris and Ile de France, which are thus on a par with the Province.
The figures show an average density of 90 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants, the national average,
but with a very large distortion depending on the region. So there are 240 lawyers in Paris for
100,000 inhabitants against 30 in Picardy .
It is a particularly attractive profession, mainly for law students who
provide the bulk of the troops, but which also attracts more and more students of the grandes écoles:
Sciences Po Law School, HEC, ESSEC, Sup de Co. This attractiveness, which is to be welcomed because nothing
would be worse than a vocations crisis, is all the more important since the law is one of the few
university subjects not taught in high school. This attractiveness is the result of a history, a
collective perception of the status and function of the lawyer. The “story” that has formed around the
profession, and which continues today in particular through the judicial chronicle, a genre that has
fortunately regained its place in the news, maintains a judicial image of the profession. This
historical narrative creates attractiveness but also has drawbacks: it maintains ideas
received from the public, from public authorities and from students on the daily reality of
profession and the individual wealth of its members. In some ways, the mythology that has
formed around the profession also cannibalizes reflections on the transformation and
innovation, as if such a universal profession, which has existed for several hundred years and
who lived on a fairly stationary model for more than 150 years in France was insensitive, even
indifferent to the transformations of society.
However, the markers of change in the profession are there: the number of lawyers is increasing every
year: growth between 3% and 4.5% each year 2
.
This increase is channeled through vocational schools and not through parallel channels:
1,807 lawyers registered with the Paris Bar in 2015, 1,500 of whom hold the Certificate
of aptitude for the legal profession (hereinafter “CAPA”).

It is also a deeply heterogeneous profession. First, there is a difference in the
modes of exercise (liberal or salaried collaboration; individual exercise; association).
Differences also exist between Paris and the province. First, income differences: between
the lawyers themselves (25% of the contributions of Parisian lawyers are generated by 3% of the lawyers
Paris. The same percentage is generated by 6% of lawyers in the provinces3
. 15% of lawyers registered with
Paris Bar declare non-commercial profits (BNC) less than 17,500 euros) and between
women and men (the median income stands at 44,000 euros, declining for several years
and shows a significant disparity between men and women, of the order of 10 to 20% depending on the
number of years of exercise).

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