Thousands of solicitors have missed the deadline to apply for their practising certificates to be renewed, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed today.
As of yesterday, 25,185 of the expected 29,000 applications from individuals and firms were in the system. This means 15% of applications had not even been started.
The news comes as recently published SRA figures show that in September there was a record number of solicitors with practising certificates – 129,794 – continuing the seemingly inexorable growth in the profession. The number of solicitors on the roll was 161,323.
This means the number of practising solicitors has increased 40% in a decade – there were 92,752 in 2003 – more than doubled in just 20 years and trebled in 30 years. In 1983, there were 42,984 practising solicitors.
The real growth in the profession began in the 1970s, having been around the 20,000 mark in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1973, there were 27,379 practising solicitors, a fifth of the number today.
An SRA spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that 15% have yet to begin the process. The regulatory deadline for the submission of PC renewals was 31 October 2013 and firms and individuals should have submitted their application and paid the appropriate fee by that date.
“We intend to start the process of revocation under regulation 10.2 of the SRA Practising Regulations 2011 in the next few weeks. Those who have not yet applied to renew their practising certificate/registration are strongly urged to do so in order to avoid revocation.”
This week the deputy president of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, expressed her concern  at the number of law students compared to the number of available jobs.