‘Is it common for law firms to deduct the cost of your practising certificate from your final pay cheque?’ 

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By Legal Cheek on


Departing associate questions deduction

In the latest installment of our Career Conundrums series, a departing lawyer raises concerns about the firm’s decision to deduct the cost of her practicing certificate from her final paycheck.

“I am a commercial lawyer and having handed in my notice the firm is deducting the cost of my practising certificate from my final pay cheque. This certainly didn’t happen when I left my old firm and wondered if the readers of Legal Cheek would consider this to be standard?”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.


Rupert 🇺🇸

Why shouldn’t they?

They’ve paid for something that you will use in your next move that is no benefit to them.

You’re in COMMERCIAL law, not some publicly funded welfare sector.

Suck it up.


Because the firm probably bills them out per hour at a rate higher than the practicing certificate costs…?

Bullingdon 🇬🇧

Ah Poopert DeBeere!

It’s unusual to see you on anything other than NQ pay threads.

Tell me, did school deduct the cleaning bill from your fees back in the day?

I’m sure the assembled masses are dying to know!


Rupert 🇺🇸

I’m no longer going to dignify your puerile and unoriginal insults with a response.

I’m much too busy earning far more than you.

Bullingdon 🇬🇧

But you just did…. 🤣🤣🤣🤣


Never heard of this, definitely a dodgy shop.


The same happened to me when leaving my last firm.

Not dodgy, but some may say petty. On the other hand, an ex girlfriend probably wouldn’t let you keep the log in to her Netflix subscription… same principle here.

The new firm (likely a competitor) would benefit from not having to fund your PC that year, so you can see why this happens. In my experience, the new firm will likely be open to repaying you whatever was deducted.


HR here – we have had a few new joiners recently whose previous firms have deducted the cost of their PC on their departure. We reimburse them the cost when this happens (and we actually don’t do it ourselves to our leavers).


As far as I am aware – having moved firms a few times over many years – this is not a common practice.

You might want to check what your employment contract says to confirm this is an authorised deduction.

Even if the contract allows it, the annual renewal fee is £337, and it feels pretty cheap for the firm to claim any of that back. It is a cost of doing business. The practising certificate was presumably renewed from 1 November 2023, so if you’ve just resigned, the firm has already had the benefit of the fee – and the billings you have generated – for about three months since then, and perhaps another few months until the end of your notice period.

It sounds as though you’ve moved firms as a qualified solicitor at least once before, so this is not likely to be relevant: perhaps a bit more common although still relatively unusual, but there are some firms that retain a contractual right (not always enforced) to claim back some or all of the CPE/GDL/LPC/SQE cost if you are offered and take a job on qualification but then resign within a year or two.


Could never be me paying that back – did my MC TC and then got the fox out of there!


IMO it’s a really petty thing to do. Most firms will seek a reimbursement from the new firm, but some do this.


DWF tries to enforce this despite not paying for a solicitor’s PC that they brought to the firm nor repaying the previous firm for paying for the PC.

Yorkshire Solicitor

At the firms that I have worked for (DWF and DAC B) it is common practice for the firm that you are leaving to deduct an apportioned amount of your practicing certificate from your final wage. The appointment being calculated based on how many days that you had left on the practising certificate. However, the new employer then simply reimburses you for that when you join them (or at least that is what has always happened for me). There is also sometimes the option for your new employer to just pay your old employer directly.

It seems like a small amount, but I imagine when you are a firm with a large headcount it would soon add up. Moreover, given that leavers are often joining a competitor it would in essence be bearing a cost for them, particularly if the person leaves shortly after renewal.


This happened to me at a well regarded City firm. Just petty. Left a bad taste.

Cheap shoes

Me too. £40 left on the certificate, but they took that from my last pay cheque. Just embarassing themselves.

Recent NQ

Think this is pretty standard. This is done at the Firm I’ve just moved from (a top 50 firm). Doubt the magic circle or US firms bother, as its not worth their time to fill out the paperwork. Firm’s can only deduct it on a pro rata basis, provided the employment contract allows it.

The Donald

This is shockingly petty and cheap. Didn’t happen when I left my old firm in 2022 and I thought they were as penny pinching as it gets .

Come to death row

Wouldn’t happen at death row records, just saying


Never happened to me when I was employed but it varies from firms to firms and depends on the circumstances you leave them. However, if they deduct, they should deduct proportionately; not the full PC fee.

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