Living wage at the commercial bar: Keating insists £15k job ad is an ‘error’

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Exclusive: It has now been taken down

A prominent London commercial chambers advertised for a junior clerk on a salary thousands of pounds below the recommended living wage, Legal Cheek can reveal. The set has told us the ad was posted “in error”.

Keating Chambers listed the job earlier this month (screenshot below) on the Legal Practice Management Association (LPMA) website. The ad showed the set — which boasts some of the wealthiest barristers in the country — was seeking a full-time junior clerk on a salary of “£15,000 PA [per annum] plus benefits”.

A spokesperson for Keating Chambers has told us that the advert was released prior to the completion of an internal pay review and chambers has requested it be “withdrawn immediately”. It has now been removed from the LPMA’s website.

The advert also appeared on Keating’s website (screenshot below), however this has now been removed too.

The London Living Wage Foundation (LWF), an independent organisation that promotes fair pay across the United Kingdom, recommends that a person 18 or over and working in London should earn at least £10.20 per hour. Based on a 37.5-hour working week, this equates to an annual salary of £19,890. The recommended figure for outside of London is currently £8.75 per hour (£17,063 a year).

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This means that Keating Chambers — which specialises in high-paying areas of law including construction, energy and infrastructure — is offering almost £5,000 less than what the LWF deems fair. For clarity, the living wage is higher than the national minimum wage (currently £5.60 per hour for 18 to 20-year-olds, £7.05 for workers aged 21 to 24, and £7.50 for workers over 25) and is not enforceable by law.

Legal Cheek’s Chambers Most List 2017-18 shows Keating Chambers is home to 33 juniors and 26 silks, and offers up to three pupillages annually. Each training position comes with a healthy award of £67,500.

A spokesperson for Keating Chambers said:

“The Executive Committee of Chambers recently met (10th October) and agreed to review the pay scales and the interview processes for junior positions. I am afraid the advert for the new position was released before that process had taken place and in error. I can assure you that Keating Chambers takes the welfare of its staff very seriously. The process of review is ongoing, and in the meantime I have asked for the advert to be withdrawn immediately until it is completed.”

Keating Chambers isn’t the only set to have been caught up in low pay controversy.

Legal Cheek has discovered another online ad (screenshot below) offering a salary well below the London living wage. The listing has been posted by a recruitment agency on behalf of a “large multi-disciplinary set” in London, which is seeking to recruit a junior clerk on £16,500 a year.

And earlier this year, Legal Cheek revealed that XXIV Old Buildings and 12 King’s Bench Walk were both looking to recruit clerks on salaries well below the London living wage.

XXIV Old Buildings — which boasts large multinationals as clients and even has an outpost in Geneva, Switzerland — placed an online ad seeking two junior clerks in full-time roles on an annual salary of just £16,000. After Legal Cheek got in touch, a spokesperson for the set told us:

“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.”

Meanwhile, personal injury and clinical negligence specialist 12 King’s Bench advertised for a junior clerk on a salary of “circa £17,500”. After Legal Cheek spotted this, the chambers pulled the ad and told us that it was in “the process of re-advertising the junior clerk’s vacancy at £21,600”.

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When people on very high pay complain about those who ‘don’t want to work,’ what they really mean is ‘those who don’t want to be exploited.’

Men of privilege often misrepresent the predicament of those less fortunate than themselves with the use of blame.

But it’s great to see, from this article and others, that privilege really do see what the problem is – bad pay.



The Bar Council’s minimum pupil large award is £12K.

Many Legal Aid sets pay just that.

Why is no-one up in arms about that?


Sleepy legal aid lawyer

Of course this is wrong- but not entirely there fault, given the amounts paid in legal aid and the diminishing amount of work avaible for juniors.

Simply put- Keating can afford to pay the living wage to everyone. Legal aid chambers would struggle if it is possible at all.



Still a higher wage than plenty are earning at the junior criminal bar.



Yes, as self-employed people making a bad business decision to join a failing industry. This is different – this is the exploitation of (almost certainly) young people on wages that are well below the London living wage.



It’s those “self-employed people making a bad business decision to join a failing industry” who then pay the wages of those “[exploited] young people”. Not sure why you consider that those “[exploited] young people” have made any better, or less conscious, a decision than the barristers in choosing to join a failing set yet expecting to get paid more than the barristers…



Except it’s Keating Chambers…



Does this chappy think Keating is a legal aid crime set? L.O.L.



This is just ignorant.



It’s low but the benefits and bonus needs to be better advertised. If this amounts to another £10-15k per year then its not an unfair package.


Corbyn. Symphathiser

If the firm is offering to pay their rent or mortgage, then yes, that would be generous. Alas, I think this is unlikely to be the case. You can’t feed a family with discounted gym memberships.



yes, because in some happy utopia of which I am not aware, a season ticket LOAN+health insurance+pension= 10-15k. lol is the only thing i can think of in response



You Muppets have overlooked bonuses.

Probably because your mediocre work is not rewarded with a bonus.



and in that same happy utopia, a bonus amounts to a person’s yearly salary minus a ticket loan and insurances.



As a clerk I can tell you the bonuses are very generous. Last year I took home £12k on top of my basic. I am a junior clerk with circa 2 years experience. I suspect those commenting above have little idea of the world of clerking.



How do clerks earn a bonus?



Are you seriously asking that question? I knew you guys had no idea about inner working (especially the Corbyn idiot) – achieving particular income targets for Chambers results in a bonus.



This is really awful.



Most junior clerks are school leavers, still living at home with parents. The pay also goes up a lot quicker than in other industries. I started on about eight and half grand in the late 90’s. Five years late and still only on my early 20’s I was earning about 35K. A lot more than most of my mates who went to uni.



I wonder what Alex pays Katie and Tom?

Declare you take home, before you give bad publicity to others.

And it’s won’t be what a trainee at Freshfields gets.



Hours they work they could top up their income by performing on cam websites.



Alex has duped them into handibg over their young lives, just like partners in law firms.

Wake up. Walk out the door.



Just turn around now, you’re not welcome anymore…



Heck of a lot of race to the bottom comments.

Peter is paid peanuts so it’s fine to pay Paul peanuts too!



A lot of chambers are experiencing financial difficulties in the current climate and are trying to paper over the cracks by expanding and seeking to recruit tenants from other sets on the false premise that the set is a success. How much Chambers are able to pay the lowest positions is a benchmark of their general success. Notice that you won’t get Chambers like brick court, one Essex, fountain court paying a pittance like the Chambers legalcheek havebcalled out on the issue. Well done LC



There are criminal pupils with debts earning 12k/annum and paying their own travel. Write some articles about that?



Keating isn’t a commercial chambers. It’s a building set, full of people not good enough to be at the commercial bar. Building work is fact heavy and law light. Check out the academic pedigree of its tenants. There are some who went to Leeds, Manchester and Leicester. They wouldn’t get a role making tea at a commercial set.


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