A London law firm has advertised a trainee job paying a salary of £10,000 a year.
Ilford-based SS Basi & Co placed adverts for a trainee or paralegal with at least one year's legal experience to work full-time "typing, taking telephone calls, dealing with client enquiries, managing files and making applications". Assuming a 35 hour working week, the £10,000 pay breaks down to a pathetic £5.92 an hour. That is three pounds beneath the £9.75 London Living wage. And more than a pound beneath the £7.05 UK minimum wage for 21-to-24-year-olds.
SS Basi would not be the first firm to take the michael after the SRA scrapped minimum pay levels for trainees. But it appears to have gone the lowest. The Law Society recommends that "as a matter of good practice", providers of training contracts should pay trainees £18,547 outside of London and £20,913 within it. SS Basi's advertised pay is less than half that amount. If its successful candidate took a flatshare in Ilford for £500 a month, their wage would leave them with under £79 a week to splash out on luxury items, such as food. That's a motivating £6 a week more than they would receive on jobseeker's allowance.
|If they borrow £2 for postage and eat from bins, SS Basi trainees can afford one a month.|
SS Basi pulled its adverts after being approached by RollOnFriday. A spokeswoman said that the inclusion of a £10,000 salary was "obviously a typo done by our admin assistant". She said that the correct amount "is the minimum wage and then it goes up from there according to the qualifications and everything". Offering desperate law graduates the minimum wage is still appalling. But what appear to be cached job adverts for SS Basi dating from 2016 and 2015 also cite the same £10,000 salary. The firm's spokeswoman said "that's not possible from our firm, we never advertise for staff normally".
|According to the firm, it actually pays trainees £11,844 a year.|
A woman purporting to be a reputation consultant for SS Basi subsequently telephoned RollOnFriday claiming that the old adverts were genuine, but that the salary was also wrong in them. In an odd conversation, she told RollOnFriday, "don't give up the day job", and hung up after promising to sue.
Bryan Scant, chairman of the Law Society's Junior Lawyers Division, told RollOnFriday, "I'm really surprised that a firm is offering such a low salary for a trainee solicitor role, it means that you can only realistically take a training contract offer if you have sufficient independent means to survive in London, which goes against the JLD's attempts to increase access to the profession for those from less affluent backgrounds. Alternatively, the trainees are going to have to work 2 jobs to be able to survive, which doesn't lead to a productive trainee".