Pupil barristers will be paid a new mandatory minimum salary from next year, a move that will see some pay packets jump by more than 50%, the bar regulator has announced.
From September next year, pupils outside London will be paid a minimum of £15,728 while those working in the capital will be paid at least £18,436. At the moment chambers have to pay a minimum of £12,000.
Unlike for trainee solicitors, the minimum pay for pupils will be mandatory.
The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) intentions, which will mean salaries are based on pay recommended by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF), were originally announced in May.
Once the new salaries come into force pay will be adjusted each year in line with the LWF’s new recommended hourly rate. The first increase will be in January 2020.
A BSB spokesperson said: ‘Linking the minimum amount that pupil barristers must be paid to the LWF’s recommendations is just one of the changes we are making to make bar training more accessible, affordable and flexible whilst maintaining high standards. Two thirds of chambers already ensure that their pupils receive more than the minimum award we are setting, but we will keep the impact under careful review particularly in relation to the number of pupillages available.’
Making the pupillage salary mandatory will put some aspiring barristers in a better financial position than many trainee solicitors.
As it stands the minimum salary for trainee solicitors is in line with the government’s national minimum or living wage – a different calculation to that proposed by the LWF. The minimum hourly wage is £7.38 for people aged 21-25 and £7.83 for people aged 25 and over.
The Law Society does recommend that, as a matter of good practice, firms should pay their trainees £21,561 in London and £19,122 outside London but there is no requirement to stick to this.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority abolished minimum salaries in 2014. Prior to this, firms were required to pay their trainees at least £18,590 if they were in London, and £16,650 elsewhere.