The Solicitors Regulation Authority is failing to protect trainee solicitors from exploitation and threats, the new chair of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has claimed.

Heather Iqbal-Rayner (pictured) has drafted a letter to SRA chief executive Antony Townsend in which she claims that the regulator refuses to act on behalf of trainees. Iqbal-Rayner argues that, as the regulator of law firms, the SRA ought to step in when firms fail to live up to the standards expected of members of the profession.

An SRA spokesman said the regulator’s remit ‘revolves around the registering of training contracts, and anyone with complaints about their working conditions should seek advice from someone who knows about employment law. This would be an employment matter, not a training contract matter’.

Iqbal-Rayner, who became JLD chair last month, plans to use her year in office to campaign for greater protection for whistleblowers.

She said: ‘Trainees work closely with fee-earners and are often the only person, apart from the fee-earner, to see evidence of misdemeanours in the paperwork. We are in a unique position to blow the whistle, but as things stand it could be the end of our careers.’