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Exclusive: Law Society President pays trainees less than Law Soc minimum
10 November 2017
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The President of the Law Society pays his trainees less than the Law Society's own recommended minimum salary.

Joe Egan confirmed to RollOnFriday that Joe Egan Solicitors, his Bolton firm, pays its trainees less than the £18,547 recommended minimum. He said, “At the moment we have two trainee solicitors – and, yes, it’s true we pay below the recommended rate. I regret this".

Egan said that it was because his firm relied predominantly on legal aid work, and that since the introduction of LASPO "times have been difficult for us and many other businesses". He said, "Two years ago I took no salary at all so my firm could keep going". He told RollOnFriday his trainees would not have had training contracts with his firm at all, had they not made the "difficult" choice to pay them peanuts.

   

The Law Society introduced the recommended minimum trainee salary in 2015 after the SRA abolished enforceable, regulatory minimum pay. The Law Society cited research showing that lower salaries prevented people from less affluent backgrounds from being able to enter the profession, with a disproportionate impact on BAME entrants.

Although the Law Society recommends that training contract providers should pay at least the minimum "as a matter of good practice", some law firms have exploited its unenforceability. It has come as a surprise to some, however, that one of the transgressors is its own figurehead.

Bryan Scant, chair of the Law Society's Junior Lawyers Division, said, “It is extremely disappointing that the President has chosen to disregard his own organisation’s guidance". Scant told RollOnFriday that the LASPO cuts "affected the entire profession and many firms suffered as a result", but that firms "recognise that trainees are in a difficult position trying to repay university tuition fees, LPC fees and living expenses. Trainees in this category therefore rely on the protection afforded by the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary". Scant said, "The actions of the President undermine the entire policy and the Society’s aims of increasing social mobility, which he has himself spoken out on”.

Asked whether it was appropriate that the person representing the profession pays his trainees less than its recommended minimum, the Law Society declined to comment. It also declined to disclose how much the President's trainees are paid. Instead it took potshots at its own policy by emphasising that it was voluntary. A spokesman said, “The Law Society of England and Wales’ recommendation for minimum pay for trainee solicitors is £20,913 in London and £18,547 outside of London. We stand by that policy. These rates are recommendations rather than mandatory”.
 
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Please keep it nice. Thanks.

anonymous user
10/11/2017 12:23
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I do feel some sympathy here as it is legal aid work and these 2 people presumably are paid something plus they got a TC.
anonymous user
10/11/2017 12:48
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If you set mandatory minimums, junior lawyers do the same work for the same pay and are "paralegals" instead of "trainees".
anonymous user
10/11/2017 13:24
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If I was earning sod all I'd rather be doing it as a trainee than as a paralegal. They'll be qualified in two years and can do what they want then - which is presumably what they, as grown adults, decided when accepting the job.
anonymous user
10/11/2017 17:59
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My big concern is that this chap seems unable to get his own law firm up to an acceptable standard of profitability, yet he has taken on the role of telling the rest of us how to practise law.
anonymous user
11/11/2017 06:58
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Slightly odd that his firm submits dormant accounts - does he pay them anything?!
anonymous user
11/11/2017 09:47
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Ditch and replace him. He isn't fit enough to be captain of the ship.
anonymous user
12/11/2017 21:30
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Blimey. And he is our leader. We’re doomed.
anonymous user
13/11/2017 04:44
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The issue, for me, is not that he has decided he can't afford to pay his trainees the recommended minimum - a lot of law firms are under financial pressure, and perhaps for the individuals concerned, any training contract is better than no contract.

The issue is that while making this decision for himself and his business, he goes round captaining a policy designed to apply moral pressure to other firms, many of whom face exactly the same financial headwinds, to pay more than he's willing to pay himself.
  

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