School-age law firm interns in Scotland could be paid as much as trainees south of the border under new guidance published by the Law Society of Scotland.

The guidance is expected to help firms clarify what an intern is, as against someone work-shadowing or a volunteer, and their entitlement to payment.

The Law Society of Scotland describes a good-quality internship as one which has been openly advertised; has a fair and transparent recruitment and selection process; provides a quality learning experience; complies with the national minimum wages; offers regular feedback and offers a review at the conclusion. There is no such guidance in England and Wales.

Alistair Morris, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said students who cannot afford to take on an unpaid role are immediately at a disadvantage. ‘We want to make sure that individuals with the ability and desire to become a solicitor can do so no matter what their financial background might be.’

He said: ‘It is vital that the profession is open to as wide a variety of people as possible and that we maintain excellent standards in education and training, while challenging existing barriers to becoming a solicitor.’

From 1 August, trainees’ salaries in England will be subject to the national minimum wage regulations. Previously the minimum salary was £18,590 per year for training contracts based in central London and £16,650 for those outside the capital.

The guidance was developed in conjunction with social enterprise Adopt an Intern.