More than a third of trainee solicitors are being paid below the recommended minimum salary, according to research published today. According to the figures, 37% of trainees outside of London are paid below the £18,547 threshold set out by the Law Society.
In London, trainees faired slightly better but 25% are still on salaries lower than Chancery Lane’s recommended London minimum wage of £20,913.
The figures were revealed after around 500 trainees answered the 2017 Salary and Benefits Benchmarker survey by legal recruiter Douglas Scott.
The figure is up on 12 months ago when 31% of trainees took home less than the recommended amount. Trainees in the North of England faired worst with one in two being paid below the minimum threshold.
Douglas Scott’s research also revealed that despite generally being contracted to a 37.5-hour working week, the average working week is closer to 40 hours with 13% of trainees working more than 48 hours a week.
Further, 5% of all trainees are being paid the minimum wage or under compared with 2% a year ago.
Kathryn Riley, managing director at Douglas Scott, said: ‘At entry level the competition for talent comes not just from rival law firms but other service sectors. The legal profession is still a great place to be but stagnating trainee salaries have the potential to damage that perception.’
Bryan Scant, chair of the Junior Lawyers Division at the Law Society, said the news was disappointing.
‘Since the abolition of the SRA’s minimum salary was proposed, the JLD has been concerned that employers would use it to either reduce trainees' pay, or to keep them at a figure which does not reflect rising living cost or the increase in university fees,’ he said, adding that it could result in a profession in which only those from more well-off backgrounds can afford to undertake a training contract.
Scant added: ‘We continue to hope that the introduction of the Law Society's recommended minimum salary will help this, and that employers will use the recommended minimum to market themselves to aspiring trainees as a firm committed to excellence in training and the development of its employees.’