New South Wales is Australia’s largest state, population 7.25 million out of 22.4 million in the country, and home to the country’s capital, Sydney. Of the 23,760 solicitors who held current NSW Practising Certificates in 2010, 11.6 % worked in government while 18.2 % worked in corporations.
The “2010 Profile of the Solicitors of New South Wales” (page 29) tells us further that as of October 2010 there were 4,327 solicitors working in 1,268 corporate organisations. Of them, 639 listed themselves as “overseas.” That is 3.4 lawyers per company, which I assume to be per law department. It is also 175 corporate law departments for every million residents (See my post of July 24, 2011: estimates 84 law departments per million residents of New Jersey.). NSW might support a higher ratio of legal departments per resident than the other states of Australia, so if we reduce the ratio by a quarter, that suggests approximately 3,000 corporate legal departments in Australia.
At the same time there were 2,760 government solicitors in NSW working across 161 government agencies (page 27). Those agencies averaged 17 lawyers each, five time larger than their private organization counterparts. It also means 21 government law departments per million residents. For Australia as a whole, the last ratio is probably not likely since they don’t have Federal agencies as much. If we reduce the ratio by, say, one-third, that leaves 317 government legal departments in Australia.