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Fifth of London trainees paid less than Law Society’s recommended minimum wage

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New statistics show that a fifth of London-based trainee solicitors are being paid less than The Law Society’s minimum salary recommendation.

Twenty percent of trainees in the capital earn below the Society’s minimum suggested wage of £22,541, compared with 16% last year, according to research undertaken by legal recruiters Douglas Scott. The average shortfall in pay is £2,816.

The situation for trainees working in the regions has improved slightly, with over a quarter paid below the recommended minimum of £19,992, compared to 35% in 2020. The average shortfall is £2,638.

The research found the average salary for London-based trainee respondents was £32,190, compared to £23,300 for their regional counterparts. Last February, The Law Society recommended law firms pay their trainees £22,541 in London and £19,992 outside the capital. However, many can (and do) ignore the advice since it is not enforceable.

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Jonathan Nolan, associate director at Douglas Scott, told Legal Cheek:

“Most of the examples of under pay I have seen have been in high street law firms who naturally work with different budgets when compared to their Top 200 cousins. However, there is evidence to suggest that a few law firms are paying below the statutory minimum wage, on or around the £12,000 level which is of course against the law and makes me question whether some employers are just leveraging the qualification journey to employ a cheap resource.”

A mandatory minimum trainee salary was scrapped by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2014. The Law Society is expected to increase its minimum pay recommendations shortly.


Update: 11:05am

The Law Society has recommended a 1.1% rise to the minimum salary for trainee solicitors across England and Wales. The new guidance suggests trainees receive £22,794 in London and £20,217 elsewhere. The new rates come into effect on 1 May 2021.

Law Society president David Greene said today the minimum salary recommendation increased in line with inflation as trainees will face rises to their cost of living.

“The solicitor profession offers an incredibly fulfilling career and nobody should face unnecessary financial barriers to entry,” he said. “Our vision is that the profession should be accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic background. I encourage all law firms to adopt this recommendation and pay their trainees a fair minimum salary for their hard work so that people from all walks of life can see a path into a career in the law.”

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