Revealed: the areas of the country where trainee solicitors are paid the least

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South West is best — avoid the rest, apart from the City


Research has revealed which areas of the country you are least likely to be paid the Law Society recommended minimum salary as a trainee solicitor.

According to the latest figures, collated by Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment, the North West of England should be avoided and aspiring lawyers should head South West instead.

The research found that 51% of trainees in the North West of England are paid less that the £18,183 figure recommended by the solicitors’ representative body, compared to just 12% of trainees in the South West.

To the outrage of many already hard-up training contract hunters and trainees alike, the minimum salary — that was enshrined in law — was abolished by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2014.

Fast forward to late 2015, recognising the possible exploitation of young legal talent, the Law Society tried to step in, recommending a minimum trainee wage of £20,276 for those in London and £18,183 elsewhere.

Unable to enforce their recommendations, the Law Society appears to have been left powerless as large numbers of law firms across the country stick two fingers up at the Chancery Lane bigwigs.

With over half of trainees in the North West not being paid what the Law Society believes is fair, the picture isn’t much brighter in London.

According to the statistics, 20% of London-based trainees are now being paid below the recommended salary of £20,276, with 10% being paid below the London living wage of £9.15 an hour.

Having looked at the country as whole, the recruiter — which spoke to 500 trainee solicitors for the survey — reckons a staggering 60% of trainees in “general practice” aren’t paid the recommended minimum wage. Overall, 31% of trainees were found to be receiving less than the minimum.

Douglas Scott director Jonathan Nolan said:

Budgetary pressures born of the ongoing liberalisation of the legal services market and economic uncertainty mean that law firms are engaged in a balancing act — they want to create opportunity but at a price they are comfortable with. And in many cases we could just be looking at a housekeeping exercise — our data suggests that the vast majority of firms are respecting the August 2014 mandatory minimum.



Wrong – Northern Ireland is the lowest



Quite right. A sales assistant earns more than the average trainee in NI. It’s utterly deplorable.



Belfast is a grim (but cheap) shithole. So perhaps the salary reflects that…



Belfast is hardly “grim” – it’s got some very good law firms, an excellent university, a great night-life and, as you say, it’s quite affordable.



Ah look I’m from the Short Strand and agree re law firms, Queens, night life etc etc, but I still say it a grim drizzly city.


You heard me

Deplorable why?



Surely living costs have to be taken into account when looking at salary figures? The south west is much more expensive than the north in terms of house prices .



Exactly. While some firms in the north east might pay you under the £18k recommendation, you can buy a house in the area for less than £50k.



You cannot buy a house for £50k, it’s the north not the 80s



Apparently I can’t link you to external websites in these comments.

However, I would recommend that you actually look at the price of property in the north east before you make a snide comment about the 1980’s. I assure you there are ample properties available in the city of Hull for less than £50k.



Anecdotal evidence, but my uncle bought a four bedroom house in Bolton last year for 60k, and smaller houses can most certainly be found for 50k or less



Most of the TC I’m applying for in the South Have starting salaries of about 15-17k



Quit your moaning. Most pupillages pay £12k.



Seconded, and we baby bazzahs do all the hard work anyway.



Us baby “Solizzies” can go on to become solicitor advocates now…we won’t need you baby bazzahs soon 😉



Yeah, but your advocacy training is a joke.



Yeah, but your advocacy training is a joke, and you have a solicitor’s approach to what happens in court, which is not a patch on how barristers work.


The original anonymous

Forgive me for talking out of place my ‘learned’ friend.


Isn’t this just a case of the haves and the have nots? Top 200 are quite transparent about their trainee salaries. Outside of that firms are bit more realistic about what they can afford to pay.


Lee travers

I think that the house of commons should be abolished and we should let the queen rule alone. I think that politicians are all liars and we know that the queen has only our best interests at heart. Maybe we should bring it back when Charles is king tho- but we should give him a go for a few weeks. If he’s good then fine.



Its actually disgusting to work in such a proffession where trainess are taken advantage of.. this is meant to be a respectable industry but instead its upsetting to see nothing is being done for trainee solicitors.


P. Isedovalot

As a qualified sole practitioner nearing the end, which cant come quick enough, law is a shitty profession thanks to the EU/ liberalisation. No one wants to pay or can afford to.
How can we afford to pay trainees? All the Assemblies ( NI, Scotland and Wales) are funding so many charities to give free advise from a consultant ( o level adviser ) no one wants a solicitor. If only they’d legalise drugs we might have a future..



I believe there should be a minimum salary for all trainees set at 25k no matter where you live. Trainees should be recognised for the hard work and study they have to do to reach the stage of a trainee.



I live in the North West and the Trainees at the firm I work for are paid minimum wage. I think they’re on around £13,000. When you’re paying £11,000+ for the LPC, how is that fair?

I’m a qualified solicitor on £20,000 and I graduated 6 years ago. I do often wonder whether it was all worth it!

So I definitely agree – if you work for a small firm, North West salaries are low.



I am a sole practitioner and offer training contracts. As a matter of principle I would offer the Law Society recommended salary on the basis I value my staff. I never agreed with the SRA abolishing the minimum salary in the first place. I remember what it was like as a trainee solicitor and I had the minimum salary protection that was hard enough. Whilst there is clearly a divide between the north and south in respect of the cost of living, nevertheless trainees should not be exploited. But unfortunately it was inevitable. I do not envy those trying to get into the profession now.



Supply and demand?



Even if we don’t make any value judgment on trainees’ skills or contribution, the debt (LPC £11,000, salary £12-15,000 before tax) makes these low salaries exploitative – either the fees or the salaries have to give!


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