The legal profession has just set a trainee solicitor minimum wage that is higher than the one it scrapped — but it’s unenforceable

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New recommended minimum wage for trainee solicitors is £20,276 in London and £18,183 elsewhere


A new recommended minimum wage has been set for trainee solicitors.

But in the process the baffling decision-making of the legal profession’s regulators has been showcased once again — with the Law Society-backed new trainee minimum salary set at a higher level than the one scrapped by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2014.

The new recommended minimum wage for trainee solicitors is £20,276 in London and £18,183 elsewhere. It used to be £18,590 in London and £16,650 elsewhere.

The big difference between the old minimum salary and the new one is that it used to be compulsory for firms to pay it. Now it’s not.

Instead, the Law Society is “recommending that, as a matter of good practice” law firms cough up.

Junior Lawyers’ Division (JLD) chair Max Harris, who is an associate at the London office of global law firm Baker & McKenzie, is optimistic that firms will follow the Law Society’s recommendation, describing that new minimum salary as “a huge step forward for social mobility in the legal profession.” He went on:

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. Of course there are sound commercial reasons for social mobility, which many firms and employers around the country recognise. By creating a profession that is open to all, the profession will attract the best calibre of candidates in all areas of practice. Firms, the profession as a whole and consumers of legal services all benefit.

The new recommended trainee minimum wage has risen because it takes into account Legal Practice Course (LPC) fee repayment. Since the old minimum wage was scrapped in August 2014 consumer price inflation has actually fallen by 0.1%, although rents have spiralled — particularly in London, where the costs of renting a flat are up by 6.8%.