The Law Society is recommending that, as a matter of good practice, providers of training contracts should pay their trainees a minimum salary of £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside of London.
The Law Society’s recommended minimum salary is based on the living wage plus the average yearly Legal Practice Course (LPC) repayment. The recommended minimum salary will be reviewed every November.
Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said:
“The recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors will contribute to better equality and diversity within the solicitor profession, enabling and supporting entrants from all backgrounds.
Qualifying to be a solicitor should always be on merit.
“Qualifying to be a solicitor should always be on merit. We never want applicants’ backgrounds to be a barrier. Many firms have developed recruitment policies that promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and we hope that firms will also adopt the recommended minimum salary for their trainee solicitors.”
The Law Society worked closely with the Junior Lawyers Division - the community for LPC students, LPC graduates, trainee solicitors and solicitors up to five years qualified - on this minimum salary recommendation. The Law Society and the Junior Lawyers Division ran a consultation on the introduction of a recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors earlier this year, with the results of that consultation in favour of the introduction.
Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD), Max Harris, said: “The JLD welcomes the Law Society’s introduction of the recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors, and considers it a huge step forward for social mobility in the legal profession. It is of utmost importance that as a profession we ensure access is open to all, regardless of background. By adhering to at least the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary, firms will encourage better access.”
“Of course there are sound commercial reasons for social mobility, which many firms and employers around the country recognise. By creating a profession that is open to all, the profession will attract the best calibre of candidates in all areas of practice. Firms, the profession as a whole and consumers of legal services all benefit.”
Of course there are sound commercial reasons for social mobility.
The average LPC repayment fee has been included in the calculation of the recommended minimum salary as it is a required course to qualify as a solicitor and therefore a cost that many trainees will be burdened with in addition to their usual living costs. The knowledge and skills trainees gain on this course are of benefit to their employers during the training as well as beyond it.
On 1 August 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority replaced the former regulatory minimum salary with a requirement that firms pay trainees at least the national minimum wage. Prior to this, firms were required to pay their trainee solicitors at least £18,590 if they were in Central London, and £16,650 elsewhere.
Law Society research into the likely impact of the abolition of the minimum salary requirement by the Solicitors Regulation Authority foresaw a negative impact in particular for entrants from less affluent backgrounds, and a disproportionate impact on black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) representation in the solicitors’ sector.