Almost a third of trainee solicitors are being paid below the minimum level recommended by the Law Society, research by a legal recruiter suggests.

Three months ago the Law Society recommended that trainees should be paid £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside the capital. This replaced a mandatory minimum of £18,590 and £16,650, which was scrapped by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in August 2014. 

But answers to a survey of 500 trainees by recruiter Douglas Scott showed that 31% of trainees are being paid under the thresholds set by Chancery Lane, with salaries in the north-west particularly falling below this level.

According to the recruiter over half of trainees in this region are being paid below the recommended level, compared to just 12% in the south-west and 20% in London.

Meanwhile as many as 60% of trainees working in general practice were paid under the minimum level.

But despite this just 2% across the country are being paid less than the minimum wage, whilst 20% are being paid below the living wage.

Jonathan Nolan (pictured), director at Douglas Scott, said: ‘Budgetary pressures born of the ongoing liberalisation of the legal services market and economic uncertainty mean that law firms are engaged in a balancing act – they want to create opportunity but at a price they are comfortable with.’

But he added that the vast majority of firms are paying trainees about the mandatory minimum that was set by the SRA.