Nearly a third of trainee solicitors paid below Law Society recommended minimum

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Rookies in regions hit hardest

The number of trainees solicitors earning less than the Law Society’s minimum salary recommendation is on the rise, new research has revealed.

Legal recruiter Douglas Scott found that 30% of rookies across England and Wales were being paid below the recommended levels set by Chancery Lane’s top brass, a rise of five percentage points on last year.

The Law Society currently recommends trainees be paid at least £22,121 in London and £19,619 outside of the capital. But the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) scrapped minimum pay requirements for young lawyers in 2014, rendering the guidance completely unenforceable — i.e. firms can (and do) ignore it.

The research also found that over a third (35%) of regional trainees were being paid below the Society’s recommended minimum, a rise of nine percentage points from 2019.

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Meanwhile, in London, where rookies can earn as much as £60,000, 16% of trainees said they were paid below what the Law Society deemed fair, down from 17% in 2019.

Jonathan Nolan, associate director at Douglas Scott, said:

“In all likelihood this story is being played out in high street, regional and rural law firms; reform and the slashing of public funding means the money just isn’t there in some circumstances. Born of necessity rather than exploitation. It would be interesting to hear otherwise.”

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