In April the Junior Lawyers Division wrote to the SRA seeking further regulatory protections for junior lawyers.
In that letter the JLD called upon the SRA:
- to review its position on both the move to deregulate training contracts and training principals and the removal of the mandatory minimum salary for trainee solicitors
- to ensure that safeguards be put in place to protect junior lawyers undertaking the work experience element of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and that the SRA confirmed how it intends to ensure that aspiring solicitors are not exploited during this work experience
- to take action against organisations employing junior lawyers and solicitors that permit toxic and unhealthy working environments to subsist
This was a continuance of dialogue between the JLD and the SRA regarding regulatory protection for junior lawyers.
The JLD has now received a response to its April letter from Julie Brannan, director of education and training at the SRA.
The SRA has declined to reconsider its previous decisions, despite the concerns the JLD raised with its request, with regards to the deregulation of training contracts and training principals, and also the removal of the mandatory minimum salary for trainee solicitors. The SRA has cited Principle 8 of the current SRA Handbook and also its new Code of Conduct (due to come into force in November 2019) as adequate means of promoting non-exploitation and helping protect all lawyers from toxic work cultures.
The JLD also stressed the importance of future safeguards being considered and implemented in light of the incoming SQE, particularly with regards the qualifying work experience element. The SRA has however stated it is not appropriate for minimum salary requirements to be applied to the qualifying work experience due to the broader range of experiences available under this route. The SRA also believes that its compilation and publication of data about training providers’ performance in relation to the SQE assessments will create a more transparent and accountable training market.
The JLD intends to consider this response and continue the dialogue on these important issues for protection of junior lawyers.