Trainees are less well off and the profession is less diverse since the Solicitors Regulation Authority decided to abolish the minimum wage for trainees four years ago, a new analysis has shown.
The SRA collected data on 33,000 trainees which revealed that, since the SRA axed the required minimum salary in 2014, trainees have become on average £560 a year worse off. But most of that cash has left the pockets of the poorest-paid trainees. Their peers in City firms now collect £40,000 or more in their first year. But the worst-paid 2% of UK trainees are paid a maximum of £13,104, which is 24% less than the £17,268 they were paid just before the minimum salary was axed. And because black, Asian and ethnic minority trainees are more likely to work in low-paying firms, they have been the hardest hit.
|A trainee asking for a raise, yesterday.|
Since 2014 trainees have had to rely on the fig leaf of the Law Society's 'Recommended Minimum Trainee Salary', which carries no regulatory weight. In fact, as revealed by RollOnFriday, it is so feeble that even the President of the Law Society, Joe Egan, does not pay it to his own trainees. RollOnFriday asked the Law Society if Egan would raise his trainees' pay now that the SRA has found that he is inadvertently hobbling diversity in the profession. It declined to comment.
Adele Edwin-Lamerton, chair of the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division, said, "The SRA’s policy has led to inequalities of gender and race and the JLD would like to know what the SRA plan to do to address this widespread issue". In response, a spokesman for the SRA referred RollOnFriday to an expression of regret by Paul Philip, the SRA's chief executive ("it is disappointing that the data again highlights that Black and Asian solicitors are more likely to work in firms that pay less”). He also pointed to the salary report's conclusion that the SRA had no intention of reinstating a required minimum, because, "It is still its view that salary levels should be set by market forces and the profession itself".