One fifth of London trainees paid less than Law Society’s recommended minimum

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By Legal Cheek on


16% in regions

One fifth of rookie solicitors in London say they earn less than the Law Society’s suggested minimum salary, new research has found.

A survey undertaken by legal recruiter Douglas Scott found that 20% of trainees in the capital were being paid below the £22,794 set by Chancery Lane’s top brass. This is the same proportion of trainees as 2021, although the average shortfall increased last year from £2,816 to £2,914.

The salary situation in the regions has “improved significantly”, according to the recruiter, with 16% of trainees earning less than the recommended minimum of £20,217, compared to 25% in 2021.

Researchers found that the average trainee salary in London comes in at £34,930, slightly up on the previous year’s figure of £32,190, while those in the regions have seen their average earnings increase from £23,300 to £26,336.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The fresh findings come as salaries across the City continue to climb, with rates for newly qualified associates surpassing £160k for the first time. The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows the highest year one trainee salary currently available is £60,000.

But while corporate pay hits record highs, many trainees working in less lucrative areas of the law find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Jonathan Nolan, associate director at Douglas Scott, said:

“The last 18 months or so, the demand for talent has resulted in salary increases across all practice areas and job types. Legal is no different from other business sectors in that respect. The main driver for the increase in pay for trainees living outside London is likely to be trickle down as opposed to altruism.”

He added: “Unfortunately, some of London’s law firms are failing to read the room, leaving many of its trainee solicitors living close to the breadline and I fear the next Law Society recommended increase, with inflation so high, will see many more fall below the threshold.”

The minimum remuneration level a trainee receives had previously been enforceable by law. However, amid much criticism, this was scrapped by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2014.

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