Lack of bank lending, Legal Aid cuts and an increase in the cost of Practising Certificates have all contributed to the drop, according to finance provider Syscap.
It said 3,465 lawyers failed to renew certificates in December –
which meant a loss of almost of three per cent of the UK’s practising solicitors.
Syscap said the 2012 Practising Certificate costs for a single-lawyer firm rose from £1,561 in 2011 to £2,201 in 2012.
Chief executive Philip White said: “The scale of this year’s exodus from the profession is surprising. It suggests that smaller law firms may be under more financial pressure than anyone thought.”
And the UK’s stretched lending environment is heaping even more pressure on small firms.
“Stricter capital adequacy requirements have forced banks to rein in their lending to small businesses, and small law firms have been hit hard by this,” added White.