Aspiring solicitors doing work experience under a new qualification route should be paid the same as those completing a training contract, the Law Society has recommended.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority's Solicitors Qualifying Exam will replace the current route to qualification in September. Requirements to qualify under the SQE include completing two years of qualifying work experience (QWE).
Today, the Society said providers of training contracts and qualifying work experience should pay a minimum salary of £20,217 for aspiring solicitors outside London and £22,794 for those in the capital.
President I. Stephanie Boyce said: 'The legal profession is set to face its biggest change in 30 years when the SQE begins on 1 September. This is why we are recommending that people doing the QWE must be paid the same as those completing a training contract.
'As both schemes will run in parallel in the coming years, due to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s transitional arrangements, this update will ensure parity across both routes. Firms should be clear that employees, no matter which route they take, will be treated fairly.'
Chancery Lane introduced the recommended minimum salary in 2015 after the regulator ended the regulatory requirement for firms to pay a minimum above the minimum wage. The figure is updated annually.
The Society worked with its Junior Lawyers Division on today's recommendation.
JLD chair Manda Banerji said: 'Entry to the solicitors’ profession should be on merit only and an individual’s financial means should not pose a barrier for them to enter the profession; such barriers result in the profession losing talent and representation from diverse communities.
'The JLD believes that the implementation of a recommended minimum salary for those completing training will have a positive impact on social mobility, equality and diversity within the legal profession. The JLD urges firms to adopt the recommendation.'