The Law Society has recommended a minimum salary for trainees, after a mandatory minimum was abolished last year by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Chancery Lane today recommends that firms pay trainees a minimum salary of £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside the capital. This compares to the mandatory minimum of £18,590 and £16,650 scrapped by the SRA with effect from August 2014.
Since then, employers have been required to pay only the national minimum wage, currently £6.70 an hour.
The Society's recommended salary is based on the living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation plus the average yearly repayment cost of the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The recommended rates will be reviewed every November. It defines London as all boroughs in Greater London.
The Law Society consulted on introducing the recommended pay in March and said that the outcome was in favour of its introduction.
Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: ‘The recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors will contribute to better equality and diversity within the solicitor profession, enabling and supporting entrants from all backgrounds.
‘Many firms have developed recruitment policies that promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and we hope that firms will also adopt the recommended minimum salary for their trainee solicitors.’
Max Harris, chair of the Law Society Junior Lawyers Division and associate at Baker & McKenzie, said the introduction was a ‘huge step forward for social mobility’ in the legal profession.
‘It is of utmost importance that as a profession we ensure access is open to all, regardless of background. By adhering to at least the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary, firms will encourage better access.
‘Of course there are sound commercial reasons for social mobility, which many firms and employers around the country recognise. By creating a profession that is open to all, the profession will attract the best calibre of candidates in all areas of practice.
‘Firms, the profession as a whole and consumers of legal services all benefit.’
In 2012 an equality and impact assessment by the Law Society predicted that the abolition of the minimum salary requirement would have a negative impact on those from poorer backgrounds, and would disproportionately hit black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation in the profession.
However, the then executive director of the SRA, Samantha Barrass, insisted scrapping the minimum would actually boost diversity, because it would result in more training contracts for disadvantaged groups.