'PRESERVE OF THE RICH'
22 Mar, 2012
Trainee “apprentices” to be paid £2.60 per hour after late SRA consultation change
The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has said that the legal profession will be the “preserve of the rich” after it emerged that trainee solicitors may be paid as little as £2.60 per hour in their first year after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) amended its minimum wage consultation.
The SRA’s amendment to its plans to remove the minimum wage for trainees came after advice was taken that trainees would be classed as apprentices within the National Minimum Wage Regulations.
The JLD has warned that this will deter those from less well off backgrounds from entering the profession, undermining diversity in the solicitors’ profession.
Heather Iqbal-Rayner (pictured), Vice Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division, said: “Apprentice wages are designed for school leavers who are usually living with their parents and about to enter a profession. Solicitor trainees will have completed four, five or even six years of study by the time they begin a training contract and may have children and mortgages, not to mention a mountain of debt from studying.
“Implementing these changes will deter large numbers of people from entering the profession and have a negative, knock-on impact on equality and diversity.
“The profession has a good, recent record on attracting a more diverse range of entrants. Scrapping the minimum salary for trainees could set back that progress and make the solicitors’ profession the preserve of the rich. Only those well off will be able to afford to live on what equates to a less than £5,000 annual salary.”
Under the proposals, trainees will have to wait for their second year of training before being entitled to even the standard minimum wage of £6.08, equating to an estimated £12,000 per year.
Last week the JLD issued a call for a delay to the consultation citing, amongst a range of issues, a lack of assessment on the impact the move would have on diversity and social mobility in the legal profession, and has urged its members to support its opposition to the plans to remove the minimum wage for trainee solicitors. The SRA’S online survey closes on 21 March the consultation responses are due by 10 April.