Karen Todner may have helped save Gary McKinnon from extradition to the US, but when it comes to the trainee minimum wage she’s no bleeding heart liberal...
Speaking yesterday to Law Society Gazette editor Paul Rogerson, Todner had this to say about the soon-to-be scrapped rule that sees trainee solicitors paid more than other people:
"Criminal legal aid firms can’t afford to pay [the trainee minimum wage], when they are having to put in for the training, professional skills course, and people are having to move seats just when they get to know what they’re doing."
Todner – whose firm Kaim Todner used to offer as many as 14 training contracts annually, but this year has just one trainee – believes the whole training contract system "just doesn’t work" and needs reforming.
But she's not optimistic about the future even if that reform takes place. The Kaim Todner chief describes the current situation for legal aid lawyers as "very worrying", highlighting the "horrendous debts people have when they come into the profession".
She adds: "Unless they have private means to deal with that debt they are going to find it difficult, which is an awful thing to have to say. We get inundated every week with applications from people with fantastic qualifications. But they can’t get a job."
There's some background on the decision to scrap the trainee minimum salary here.