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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, 2017Key points for selected legal and security occupations
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.