SRA defends trainee minimum salary cut
Scrapping the trainee minimum salary will increase, rather than hinder, diversity in the profession, a senior regulator has insisted.
Samantha Barrass, executive director of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, was speaking after SRA board members voted to deregulate the minimum salary at their meeting last week. Following the decision, firms will be able to pay their trainees the statutory national minimum wage of £6.08 an hour from August 2014. The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) described the decision as ‘nonsensical’.
However, Barrass told the Westminster Legal Policy Forum there was evidence to suggest that removal of the minimum salary requirement might result in more training contracts ‘which could provide opportunities for those same groups who might be potentially disadvantaged’.
She added: ‘Professions which have diversified routes to qualification have a more diverse workforce and, in particular, better representation of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.’
Critics pointed out that not a single firm has publicly stated it will offer more training contracts upon deregulation. The SRA was not able to provide an analysis of the results of its four-month consultation on the issue when the Gazette went to press on Tuesday.
In today’s issue, JLD chair Hekim Hannan accuses the regulator of selectivity in its response to the consultation. ‘Any shred of support for abolition was seized upon, no matter how weak, while the JLD’s 90-page response barely merited a mention,’ he said.
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