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Junior lawyers urge Law Society president to ‘reconsider what he pays trainees’ as it emerges that his firm fails to meet minimum salary

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Leading from the top…

Joe Egan and Bryan Scant

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has this morning rounded on the president of the Law Society after it emerged that his law firm does not pay the recommended trainee solicitor minimum wage.

Speaking to Legal Cheek this morning about Joe Egan’s breach of legal profession good practice, JLD chair Bryan Scant, who is a solicitor at Coffin Mew, said:

“I hope that he will reconsider what he pays his trainees. It’s disappointing.”

When he is not heading up the solicitors profession as Law Society president, Joe Egan runs Bolton high street law firm Joe Egan Solicitors. Overnight a report emerged on legal blog RollonFriday suggesting that the firm pays trainees below the £18,547 minimum salary that the Law Society itself recommends. Egan has since confirmed the story, issuing this pre-prepared comment to the legal press:

“My firm is predominately a legal aid firm and times have been difficult for us and many other businesses since LASPO came on line. Two years ago I took no salary at all so my firm could keep going. At the moment we have two trainee solicitors — and, yes, it’s true we pay below the recommended rate. I regret this. But these two people would not have had training contracts with us had we not made this difficult choice.”

Egan’s struggles up north contrast with the lavish resources of the Law Society. During each president’s year-long term, they live in a luxury early 18th century Georgian townhouse — complete with a wine cellar — located just off Chancery Lane.

Unsurprisingly rookie solicitors are not happy about the situation, with the JLD — which was the driving force behind the implementation of the recommended minimum wage in 2015 — leading the way.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

As Scant reminded Legal Cheek this morning: “A few years ago the JLD worked very hard with the Law Society to come up with a recommended minimum salary”. So no wonder he and his colleagues are pissed off.

Still, for a JLD chair to criticise a Law Society president in such strong terms is unusual (bear in mind that the JLD is itself part of the Law Society) — and underlines what weak ground Egan is on.

In a formal statement sent out across the legal press, Scant continued:

“It is extremely disappointing that the president has chosen to disregard his own organisation’s guidance in relation to the minimum salary and chosen to pay his firm’s trainee solicitors less than the society recommends. The LASPO cuts affected the entire profession and many firms suffered as a result. Firms recognise that trainees are in a difficult position trying to repay university tuition fees, LPC fees and living expenses. Trainees in this category therefore rely on the protection afforded by the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary.”

He added: “The actions of the president undermine the entire policy and the society’s aims of increasing social mobility, which he has himself spoken out on.”

The Law Society appears to be with the JLD on this one. In a statement it said:

“The Law Society of England and Wales’ recommendation for minimum pay for trainee solicitors is £20,913 in London and £18,547 outside of London. We stand by that policy. These rates are recommendations rather than mandatory.”

The ball is now in Egan’s court. Will he follow the JLD’s call to “reconsider” what he pays his trainees?

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23 Comments

Anonymous

I haven’t heard the term “Rookie Solicitor” before…

Anonymous

Is this your first visit to Legal Cheek?

Anonymous

LC: Written by GCSE students for GCSE students

GCSE Student

Hey!

Don’t insult us like that…

Wannabe

Pwned

Anonymous

like this story, ripped off wholesale from rollonfriday. keep it up guys!

Anonymous

But does he think that Doxbridge is a thing?

Anonymous

Ha ha. That silly Doxbridge title really grated. It was so Legal Cheek

Anonymous

Scant does not seem to have grasped Egan’s situation as a legal aid practitioner in Bolton. He needs to speak to his supervisor for help and he needs to speak to the trainees themselves before he gets excited by the opportunity for the legal press to print his condemnation.

Anonymous

Another Law Society fuck up. How the hell did they miss this? Clearly foreseeable that a legal aid lawyer from Bolton may have issues with recommended minimum wage. Due diligence, anyone?

Anonymous

Joe Egan Solicitors Ltd’s accounts at companies house contains only dormant accounts as filed since this company was incorporated on 3 March 2014.

What’s going on, Joe?

Anonymous

Is he a sole trader , rather than a Limited Company , do you think ?

Anonymous

If you are able to pay people £1 an hour you can pay far more people to work for you than if you pay them £7, but it has been agreed that a certain amount is required to live your life.
The minimum salary isn’t just a magical figure, it is an amount that was agreed upon by lawyers as the amount needed to be able to survive when entering the legal profession. The majority of firms in the UK are able to pay it and able to survive.
Maybe he should think about running his business better rather than coming up with excuses about providing more opportunities to employ.

Anonymous

I can afford to pay 2 dozen children for the price of a couple of graduates. Doesn’t mean I should.

Anonymous

http://www.rollonfriday.com/TheNews/EuropeNews/tabid/58/Id/5405/fromTab/36/currentIndex/0/Default.aspx

(because you’re too pathetic to include a link you desperate choppers)

Anonymous

Throwing shade on rollonfriday by calling it a blog and yourself news doesn’t really work, legal cheek staff, when it always break the news before you.

Anonymous

Trying to dress up a ROF story in a different way because you’re too ashamed to admit you nicked it. Naughty naughty LC!

Amused onlooker

The sense of entitlement from Mr Matthew Rhodes OBE and his little orange website always amuses me.

Anonymous

Ok ok this may have been blatantly ripped from ROF. But the good thing about LC being too embarrassed to put any of their journo’s names to it is that at least that spares us from one of Tom’s weak jokes or a Lady Hale/Beyoncé, Amal Clooney, Doxbridge a thing comment by KK.

Anonymous

Waiting for Frustrated Writer with bated breath

Anonymous

This is a scandal and should be much bigger news than it is.

Anonymous

I disagree. Bryan Scant trained at a high street firm in Dorset and he qualified in 2013. He now practices family law at Coffin Mew which looks like an affluent firm with a number of offices in the south. He has a passion for classic vw beetles. Does he present as someone who could run a legal aid firm in Bolton better than Egan ? Not for me. Is he ever likely to try ? I doubt it. Why doesn’t he shut up then and leave less fortunate people who are trying their best alone ?

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