International Bar Association reveals legal sector's US$ 1.6 trillion contribution to global economy

This contribution comes from over 20 million lawyers, paralegals, and support staff

International Bar Association reveals legal sector's US$ 1.6 trillion contribution to global economy

In a recent report, the International Bar Association (IBA) quantified the significant socio-economic benefits generated by the legal profession, revealing that the legal sector contributes $1.6 trillion to the global economy, representing 1.7 percent of global GDP.

The report noted that this contribution comes from the efforts of over 20 million lawyers, paralegals, and support staff, as well as an additional 14 million workers in related sectors, including notaries and translators.

The report highlighted the critical role of the Rule of Law in maximizing these contributions. Countries that maintain strong legal frameworks and uphold legal rights experience greater socio-economic benefits than those with restrictive legal environments. Almudena Arpón de Mendívil, IBA president, emphasized the importance of robust legal systems, stating that they support economic growth, promote innovation and education, and combat inequality.

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“This landmark study demonstrates, for the first time, in a comprehensive manner, the true contribution of the legal profession through its sustaining of the Rule of Law,” the IBA president said.

The Impact Report detailed the legal services sector’s contribution, including US$ 787 billion in legal service revenues, US$ 191 billion in tax contributions, and US$ 637 billion in supply-side services. Corporate law and litigation are the largest contributors, generating US$ 222 billion and US$ 193 billion respectively. The report underscored how legal professionals facilitate everyday activities such as purchasing homes, employment arrangements, and protecting intellectual property, while their most crucial role remains supporting the Rule of Law.

As threats to the Rule of Law increase globally, the IBA calls for enhanced access to representation, stronger advocacy, improved legal education, and adherence to high ethical standards. The report outlined several areas for improvement, including access to legal representation. The IBA aims to lower barriers to legal access and collaborate with institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations. Initiatives such as the annual Pro Bono Award and the eyeWitness to Atrocities app highlight lawyers’ efforts in supporting citizens and gathering evidence for legal investigations.

Advocacy and policy support are also key areas of focus. The IBA will continue issuing public statements against actions undermining the Rule of Law and provide research and legal advice on issues like human rights, media freedom, and modern slavery. Specialist committees will also make submissions to authorities on tax, antitrust, and insolvency matters.

The report noted that education and communication are crucial for the IBA's mission. The organization plans to enhance educational programs for young lawyers, offer technical assistance to legal practitioners, and increase public awareness of the importance of the Rule of Law.

Finally, ethics stewardship remains a priority. The IBA will reinforce guidelines to help legal professionals maintain the highest ethical standards.

MsArpón de Mendívil stressed the need for collective action among law societies, bar associations, law firms, and other stakeholders to uphold the Rule of Law. She noted that the report is crucial in understanding the legal profession’s social and economic impact and identifying ways to enhance it.

The IBA hopes this comprehensive analysis will increase public understanding of the legal profession’s role and its vital contributions to society.

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