Closing the door
I have never before, in over 30 years in the law, been moved to write to the Gazette. However, the article by Solicitors Regulation Authority board chair Charles Plant so incensed me that I felt the need to put pen to paper.
My year was the first year in which the Law Society set a minimum wage. Up until that time, the law profession was closed to those of us with no money or contacts. I much regret that 30 years later, the profession I was then proud to join has taken the decision to scrap the minimum salary for trainees. Only one solicitor on the SRA board comes from outside the magic circle or other large bodies; it is clear to me that their understanding of the consequences of what they are proposing is extremely limited.
How will students from average or disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from this decision? And just how does it comply with equality duties? The excuses laid out in Mr Plant’s article were risible.
My direct personal experience is not that firms will offer more training contracts when there is no minimum wage, but that they will expect payment for the award of a contract - a system which had lasted many years and benefited only those who awarded the contracts. It restricted entry to the profession and I do not understand how it is ‘in the public interest’.
I cannot decide which saddens me more, that the decision was taken, or that it was ‘decided unanimously’.
Bernadette Livesey, solicitor, Wakefield
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