According to a new report from the International Bar Association (IBA), countries that firmly uphold the Rule of Law experience greater socio-economic benefits from the everyday contributions of lawyers than governments that impose restrictions on legal rights.

In this first global study to comprehensively quantify the legal profession's socio-economic influence, The IBA report on the social and economic impact of the legal profession reveals that the legal profession directly contributes $1.6 trillion to the global economy, or 1.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), via the work of more than 20 million lawyers, paralegals and support staff alongside a further 14 million workers in the supplier sector, including  notaries and translators.

The report also states that, as threats to the Rule of Law become more serious in many parts of the world, action must be taken to improve access to representation, strengthen advocacy, improve education and pursue the highest ethical standards.  

In response to the report, Chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales Sam Townend KC said: "The International Bar Association's new report could not have come at a better time, to highlight the important role of the legal profession and the Rule of Law, with only days left before the UK general election.

"The IBA report shows the positive economic impact of the legal profession globally and in the UK, justice has often been the forgotten public service and receives just 1% of total government spending. In real terms per person, spending on justice has fallen by 22% since 2009/10. That is why we need politicians to agree to invest in the justice system in the next parliament.

"The IBA report suggests that strong support for the rule of law encourages higher levels of inward investment and supports businesses. Yet there has been a global erosion of the Rule of Law in recent years.

“The Bar Council is concerned that the UK's longstanding reputation for upholding and respecting the rule of law has recently come under threat and we hope that all the politicians elected on 4 July will commit to protect and promote the Rule of Law both at home and abroad.”

Read the IBA report