The Law Society has recommended a 3.1% rise in the minimum salary for trainee solicitors in London to £20,913, and a 2% rise outside the capital to £18,547.
A mandatory minimum for trainees of £18,590 in London and £16,650 outside was scrapped by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2014. But Chancery Lane continues to make an annual recommendation as a matter of good practice, in consultation with the Junior Lawyers Division.
The recommended minimum is based on a 35-hour week at the ‘real’ living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation (£9.75 per hour in London and £8.45 outside) – to which is added £3,168, the average yearly LPC repayment.
With the removal of the mandatory minimum, firms must pay trainees no less than the national minimum wage, which at £6.95 an hour equates to a gross annual salary of £12,649.
Earlier this year a survey of 500 trainees by recruiter Douglas Scott showed that 31% of trainees were being paid less the thresholds set by Chancery Lane.
This included more than half in the north-west, but just 12% in the south-west and 20% in London.
Last year’s recommended minima were £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside.
In 2012 an equality and impact assessment by the Society predicted that the abolition of the minimum salary requirement would have a negative impact on those from poorer backgrounds, and would disproportionately hit black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation in the profession.
However, the then executive director of the SRA, Samantha Barrass, insisted scrapping the minimum would actually boost diversity, because it would result in more training contracts for disadvantaged groups.