During the consultation over the scrapping of the trainee solicitor minimum salary last year, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) suggested to the media that trainees could be re-classified as apprentices – and earn just £2.60/hour as a result. Outrage ensued.
When the trainee minimum salary was dropped two months later, and replaced with the standard national minimum wage, a sense of relief about avoiding £2.60/hour hell tempered the anger. It was a classic PR trick.
Yesterday's "leaked memo" revealing that the whole justice system is to be privatised, with hedge funds encouraged to invest in courts, had a similar feel to it...
"Courts in England and Wales are facing wholesale privatisation under revolutionary plans that would end the system that has existed since Magna Carta," bellowed The Times (£).
The dastardly plan "involves tearing up the Magna Carta and flushing it down the bog," screeched influential blogger Fleet Street Fox, as Twitter went wild.
Suddenly, anything short of complete Armageddon began not to feel so bad.
And as the Ministry of Justice proceeded to deny the full extent of the story, Grayling and co. appeared – for the first time in a while – almost reasonable.
Lawyers are too clever to fall for such a ruse, right?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority's (SRA) latest diversity survey has an eye-catching new 'Jewish Muslim' option in its religion section. According to journalist Joshua Rozenberg, who spotted it, the category is "apparently a 'misprint'".
The final report of the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) – potentially the biggest shake-up of legal education in three decades – was due last month. But as yet there has been no sign of it...
There have been murmurings as far back as autumn 2011 that LETR was going to struggle to keep its December 2012 deadline.
But there remains no mention of any delay on the LETR website, or the websites of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) – which continue to state that LETR's final recommendations "will be published in December 2012".
The only clue as to when we'll get to see the final report can be found in a tweet issued by the LETR Twitter account in November in response to a question by a journalist. It confirms, in a rather round about way, that the report has indeed been delayed. I wonder why LETR hasn't placed this useful piece of information on its website?
A "wholly unjustified and unreasonable" decision to prosecute a small law firm for supposed failure to comply with the new Code of Conduct has left Andrew Hopper QC of the view that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is becoming increasingly dysfunctional
Last month Kearns Solicitors placed an advert in Counsel magazine seeking LPC and BPTC graduates to work as "court advocates". Applicants who got through the CV and cover letter sift were invited to complete a gruelling four-page test – available here – within seven days.
When a Bar graduate (who contacted me anonymously last week) completed the test – and passed – she got this response...
Three weeks on from the scrapping of the trainee minimum wage and the decision looks more ill-thought through than ever, argues Oxford University Bachelor of Civil Laws (BCL) student Richard Ridyard
The thousands of LPC graduates without a training contract have choked off the arteries of confidence in the legal graduate market. We find ourselves at a crossroads. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made a bold step by abolishing the minimum wage for trainee solicitors. But now that the dust has settled and we have had a chance to reflect on that decision, was it the right one? Here, I argue that the four reasons Legal Cheek gave to explain why the SRA acted as it did are flawed.
EXCLUSIVE: In March, Legal Cheek published a story about a firm that was asking law graduates to self-fund a very expensive paralegal course in order to be considered for a training contract with them.
I decided it was too risky to publish the name of the firm in question without any written evidence of the programme.
A few days ago, though, the firm, Aston Carter Solicitors, went public with a finalised version of its pay-to-be-a-paralegal scheme, which will commence next month.
Here’s the deal:
You heard it here first, a full hour before any other publication, and it’s now been confirmed that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has scrapped the minimum wage for trainee solicitors.
The good news for current LPC students is that, firstly, the change won’t come into force until August 2014, and, secondly, trainees will still receive the national minimum wage of £6.08 an hour. Trainees will NOT be re-classified as apprentices and so the fears that they could earn just £2.60 an hour have proved unfounded.
I attended the SRA meeting at which the rule change was agreed this afternoon, and it was difficult to argue with the logic of the regulator’s board members – several of whom had clearly agonised hard over the decision.
In the end, it boiled down to four key points.
Training contract numbers may be on the increase again, but times are still hard for LPC students – thousands of whom will finish law school this summer without a job to go to.
How to steal a march on the rest of the wannabes? Well, you could take out an advert hawking your services in a legal magazine. That's what Charles Mallinson, an Oxford University graduate currently studying the LPC, has done, placing a come-and-get-me plea to the corporate and commercial law firms of the North West in the latest issue of Liverpool Law Society’s magazine (see below).
Nice idea, you might think. But the trouble with this sort of thing is that it can get you in hot water with law's regulators – as Bar graduate Maney Ullah found out in January 2009 when he placed this full page ad in the inside cover of Counsel magazine.
The minimum trainee salary debate is developing into quite a fight – with the latest blow landed yesterday by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) when it released findings claiming that 70% of law firms which don't hire trainees would "seriously consider" doing so if the minimum salary was scrapped.
Upon hearing this, committee members of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) of the Law Society, which strongly opposes scrapping the minimum salary, hit back immediately via the comment section of Legal Futures.
“I could not have afforded to be paid the minimum trainee wage while I was a trainee because I had rent and loan repayments to come out of my account. Low paid TCs would only deter others like me from pursuing a career in law,” wrote Grace Cowling.
But what does Cowling's leader, JLD chief Hekim Hannan, have to say about the minimum salary debate?
Legal Cheek’s special correspondent Kevin Poulter caught up with him to find out...