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Average trainee solicitor pay down £560 since regulator scrapped minimum salary requirement

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Nearly half of rookies think they’re paid too little

New research has shown that average trainee salaries are £560 less since rookie minimum pay requirements were ditched by the regulator in 2014.

A report published yesterday by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) says a drop in the salaries of the lowest earning trainees is pulling down the average. In 2016, the lowest paid 2% of trainee solicitors received up to £13,104. This stood at £17,268 the year prior to the minimum pay requirement’s removal. So, it appears it’s those finding their feet in the poorer paid areas of the profession such as criminal legal aid that are feeling the post-scrappage pinch. By contrast, trainee pay in City law firms is steadily increasing.

The prescribed minimum wage for trainee solicitors used to be £18,590 in London and £16,650 elsewhere. The median salary among all trainees is currently £25,677, slightly lower than it was when there was a minimum.

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Elsewhere, 47% of rookies in 2016 said their pay packet was too small: down nine percentage points on the 2016 result of 55%. Some trainees, the report said, “commented that they were on a low wage despite working very long hours in demanding training contract roles”. Fifty-two percent think their salary is “about right”, while 2% say they’re too generously remunerated.

In response to the SRA’s minimum pay removal, the Law Society issued its own salary guidance — which unfortunately law firms can choose to ignore. Chancery Lane big wigs recommended, as a matter of good practice, that outfits pay trainees at least £21,561 in London and £19,122 everywhere else.

So it was red faces all round when it emerged last year that the Society’s own president, Joe Egan, was paying trainees below the recommended solicitor minimum wage. At the time Egan, who runs Bolton outfit Joe Egan Solicitors, cited government cuts to legal aid in his explanation.

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23 Comments

Anonymous

It’ll still take a good while before people realise that those with the money bags don’t want to share with you, it doesn’t matter how well qualified you are and how hard you work.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Vote Corbyn.

Put a stop to this exploitation.

(8)(8)

Anonymous

No one will have to work because there will be no work!

(6)(4)

Irwin Mitchell Trainee

What are those shiny disks in the picture?

(31)(1)

Other Irwin Mitchell trainee

I think they must be some kind of biscuit

(20)(2)

Disgruntled employee

£13k – should be illegal.

(28)(0)

Anonymous

Definitely a criminal law firm in Stoke on Trent paying a trainee that kind of money…

(1)(0)

Person with common sense

Further light on the ridiculous amounts earned by London trainees/lawyers.

22 year old on £50k? Partners on £2m a year? And we can’t afford to give people legal aid. What a sad, sad society.

(13)(14)

MC trainee

Personally I’m happy to pay more taxes when I qualify but it’s not really our fault the government refuse to spend money on something as important as legal aid.

(22)(2)

US Elite Trainee

Not sure what a trainee’s age has to do with anything

(25)(1)

London Lawyer

You try accruing seven years of university debts and then consistently working 14-16 hour days a least six days a week in one of the world’s most expensive places to live and then tell me I earn too much money.

(36)(1)

Anonymous

Hear hear.

Although 7 years of debt is horsecock – absolute majority acrue debts for 3 years at most, then LPC paid for, then straight up to £45k-ish pay.

Stil, such money doesn’t get you anywhere in a city like London.

(2)(5)

Anonymous

7 years seems believable. My cohort of 24 trainees are between the ages of 21 and 30 with the average being 26. That’s 7 years post A levels. Most did an undergraduate degree, then either a masters and a GDL or just the GDL before getting training contracts.

(1)(1)

Pupil

This is one of the reasons I chose the Bar – if I’m not making money, then it’s probably my fault, and if I am making any dough then I get to keep the lion’s share.

Yes, I’ll probably never take home what a partner does at a City shop but the reality is that very few associates ever make that level, and even fewer trainees stay the course until that point.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

sounds good but money now is better than money later and being a solicitor means money now. Also, there are nearly 14 times as many training contracts than there are pupillages

(1)(1)

ANON

And on the whole the firms paying £13k are not the ones also funding the LPC. It is exploitative to expect the student to self-fund £30k of living costs/study and then take advantage of the TC bottleneck to pay them so little for a job they would be mad not to take.

Firms know that most candidates won’t turn down a TC offer because of salary alone, and take advantage of the buyer’s market to pay below living wage. But it’s ok because they have a new diversity committee examining why kids from less affluent backgrounds don’t (can’t) get into law…

(9)(0)

Anonymous

If a firm isn’t paying for the LPC they also don’t care whether you do it part-time or full-time, in-class or not, in london or somewhere cheaper. Someone like Clifford Chance pays for the LPC but it also dictates terms. CC trainees have to do the fast track version, jobs are strongly advised against and all 110 trainees must do the LPC with BPP at the holborn location. No exceptions.

(3)(0)

Regional NQ

You’re telling me that if you allow firms to pay trainees less, many of them will?

I’m shocked. Shocked. Nobody could ever have predicted that this would happen.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

STOP USING THE WORD ROOKIE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

(6)(0)

Judge Mental

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Year one 17k year 2 18k in London. Then they wonder why I’m not staying on even with the offer of a rather decent NQ salary.

It’s not rocket science value your staff as without you have no firm.

(4)(0)

Corby. Sympathiser

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(0)

Kettering. Sympathiser

Fascists.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I am a second year trainee in London on £69,560 and its simply not enough.

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.

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