Employment in London in legal services is growing faster than any other financial or professional service, new figures have revealed.

According to lobby group TheCityUK, the number of legal services employees in the City rose in the first half of 2012 by 3.3% to 118,700. The figure surpassed pre-recession levels for the first time and was a 24% jump on the five-year low of 95,900 in 2010.

Compared with figures at the end of 2011, insurance employment fell by 2.3% and the number of banking jobs decreased by 1.6%.

TheCityUK’s London Employment Survey found a net increase of 2,700 jobs in the first half of the year, largely due to the 1.5% growth in professional services.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of TheCityUK, said: ‘The financial and professional services sector is critical to the UK economy and London is the number one financial centre in the world. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The job market is still sluggish and London is facing competition from other financial centres, including those in Asia and America.

‘We need to do all we can to ensure that London remains attractive to talented employees as a place to work, and that firms are able to compete against their peers in the US and Far East.’

The largest sector by employment is accounting and management consulting, which as of June 2012 together employed 191,600 people in London. The next largest sectors are banking (143,800), legal services (118,700), insurance (70,700) and fund management (22,000). Auxiliary and other financial services sectors employ an additional 119,600 people.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Solicitors Regulation Authority last week show the number of foreign lawyers practising in England and Wales increased by 10% in September to 1,929.

The growth helped contribute to a monthly rise of more than 2,000 practising solicitors overall to 127,109.