Exclusive: Elite London commercial chambers fails to pay clerks living wage

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By Thomas Connelly on

XXIV Old Buildings one of a number of sets paying pittance to support staff

A leading commercial chambers in London where barristers can pocket seven-figure earnings has been advertising junior clerk positions that pay thousands less than the living wage.

Legal Cheek can reveal XXIV Old Buildings, a Lincoln’s Inn-based commercial and chancery law set, posted a job ad (screenshot below) on the Legal Practice Management Association (LPMA) website looking to recruit two junior clerks in full-time roles on an annual salary of just £16,000. This is over £3,000 less than the London living wage. At the time of writing, the ad is still online

A screenshot of the XXIV Old Buildings’ advert (via LPMA website)

According to the Living Wage Foundation, an independent organisation that promotes fair pay across the UK, a person 18 or over and working in London should receive £9.75 an hour. Based on a working week of 37.5 hours this comes out at £19,012.50 per annum — £3,012.50 more than what XXIV Old Buildings is coughing up for its junior clerks.

It’s worth noting that the living wage, higher than the national minimum wage, is an optional guideline for employers and is not enforceable by law.

Emphasising that it is “committed to providing a positive working environment for all its staff”, a spokesperson for XXIV Old Buildings told Legal Cheek:

The position advertised is an entry-level position for individuals who have no experience and who are keen to take their first step into clerking — we do not expect the person to be on this salary for long. The salary is in line with industry standard and XXIV offers a very attractive benefits package.

These puny pay packets are all the more astonishing given that XXIV Old Buildings is home to some of country’s top remunerated lawyers. Boasting large multinationals as clients (it even has an outpost in Geneva, Switzerland), the chambers’ top QCs and juniors can trouser millions of pounds a year. Legal Cheek’s Most List also shows that pupils are awarded £65,000, over four times the salary of a junior clerk.

Another example of poor chambers pay, until very recently, is 12 King’s Bench Walk. An advert, again posted on the LPMA website and which has since been updated, showed that the London personal injury and clinical negligence set was looking to take on a new “junior clerk”. The London role came with a salary of “circa £17,500”, more than £1,500 under the living wage recommendation.

A spokesperson for the set told us:

12KBW have made a decision to ensure all staff are paid at least the London ‘living wage’, and having made this decision are not proceeding with the recruitment process of a junior clerk as advertised at £17,500 per annum. Chambers are in the process of re-advertising the junior clerk’s vacancy at £21,600.

Legal Cheek also spotted one further example of a chambers looking to recruit junior clerks on less than the London living wage. The ad, by a recruitment agency on behalf of a “leading barristers chambers”, shows that the role comes with a salary of “£17k + discretioary [sic] bonuses and excellent benefits.”

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