Society Draws Up Salary Minimum for Trainees
By Chloe Smith » The Law Society has recommended a minimum salary for trainees after a mandatory minimum was abolished last year by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In a policy announced last week, Chancery Lane said firms should pay trainees a minimum of £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside the capital. The mandatory minimum of £18,590 and £16,650 was scrapped by the SRA with effect from August 2014. Since then, employers have been required to pay only the national minimum wage, currently £6.70 an hour for 21-year-olds and over. The Society’s recommended salary is based on the living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation plus the average yearly repayment cost of the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The recommended rates will be reviewed every November. It defines London as all boroughs in Greater London. The Law Society consulted on introducing the recommended pay in March and said responses were in favour of its introduction. Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: ‘The recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors will contribute to better equality and diversity within the solicitor profession, enabling and supporting entrants from all backgrounds. ‘Many firms have developed recruitment policies that promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and we hope that firms will also adopt the recommended minimum salary for their trainee solicitors.’ Max Harris, chair of the Law Society Junior Lawyers Division and associate at global firm Baker & McKenzie, said the introduction was a ‘huge step forward for social mobility’ in the legal profession. ‘It is of utmost importance that as a profession we ensure access is open to all, regardless of background. By adhering to at least the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary, firms will encourage better access,’ he said. ‘By creating a profession that is open to all, the profession will attract the best calibre of candidates in all areas of practice.’ In 2012 an equality and impact assessment by the Law Society predicted that the abolition of the minimum salary requirement would have a negative impact on those from poorer backgrounds, and would disproportionately hit black, Asian, and other minority ethnic representation in the profession. However, the SRA’s then executive director, Samantha Barrass, insisted that scrapping the minimum would boost diversity, because it would result in more training contracts for disadvantaged groups.
[Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette].