Fears of an oversupply of aspiring lawyers in the U.K. have been reinforced by new research showing a 16 percent fall in the number of available training contracts last year, despite the profession as a whole continuing to expand.

The latest annual statistical report from the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, shows that the number of registered training contracts offered in the 12-month period ending 31 July 2010 was 4,874, a decrease of 16.1 percent on the previous year’s figure of 5,809. The annual number of training contracts has now fallen 23 percent from a 2007-2008 peak of 6,303.