London law firm denies knowledge of advert for trainee solicitor job that pays just £10k

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By Katie King on

You’d earn double that in Aldi, and five times at other outfits

An advert for a trainee solicitor at a law firm in East London includes a dismal salary of £10,000.

The ad, for outfit SS Basi & Co, is looking for a candidate with a year’s legal experience under their belt. Though the advert has since been pulled, it is floating in the Google Cache and has been retrieved by Legal Cheek and is screenshotted below.

A £10,000 salary, assuming a 9am-5pm working day with a paid lunch, equates to £4.81 an hour. A 9am-5pm working day with lunch unpaid would take the hourly rate to £5.49. Both figures are well below the UK minimum wage for early twenty-somethings (£7.05) and the London Living Wage (£9.75) — though do note only the former is a legal requirement.

Satwinder Singh Basi, law firm partner, denies SS Basi pays this rate. He told us:

This is ridiculous. I’ve been here [the firm] since 1994 and all trainees have been paid the minimum rate.

When asked about the listing, he said: “What adverts? I’ve not seen any adverts.”

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) sets a minimum guideline salary consistent with the minimum wage. This means that “an authorised training provider” must pay trainees “at least the single hourly rate of the national minimum wage specified in regulation 11 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999.” Basi appears to realise this, noting:

To pay trainees £10,000 would be in breach of SRA rules. I don’t know what Mickey Mouse outfit you’re running, but we don’t pay that here.

It perhaps goes without saying that £10,000 a year is wildly out of line with what other outfits in the capital pay. Law Society guidelines state London firms should pay their trainees at least £20,913. The Legal Cheek Most List shows £30,000-£40,000 for first year trainees is far from uncommon, with the top firms paying £50,000.

This is, of course, on the lucrative commercial law side of things, whereas Ilford firm SS Basi specialises in more welfare-oriented practice areas like crime and immigration. So to give you a comparison with trainees at more humble organisations: Brighton Housing Trust pays its trainees £21,488 for 37 hours per week; North Kensington Law Centre’s aspiring solicitors earn £23,000 for 35-hour weeks; and trainees at human rights group Liberty enjoy £24,650 for 35 hours too.

But while you might be better off working in a Boots store (£7.70 per hour) or an Aldi (£9.75 per hour) than you would in the advertised SS Basi role, pay over at the bar leaves a lot to be desired too.

In a Legal Cheek feature on legal aid work for junior barristers, one reported earning just £2.40 an hour. Many admitted they consider packing in the job each and every day.

And you can’t even assume you’ll be on London Living Wage at the commercial bar either. Last month we revealed that XXIV Old Buildings, a Lincoln’s Inn-based commercial and chancery law set, was advertising for junior clerks at £16,000 per annum. In fact, the advert is still online today.

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

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