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We had a series of reports and research documents from professional and regulatory bodies come through this week offering a mixture of silver-ish linings, fresh hopes and kicks up the proverbial.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) latest report on the minimum salary review found that 70 per cent of law firms that do not hire trainees currently would ’seriously consider’ creating training contracts if the minimum salary was scrapped.
That is nice for the firms who clearly see the value of cheap labour but what about the trainees, particularly those from less affluent backgrounds?
Respondents were also asked for their views on the potential impact of removing the training salary on diversity within the profession. In terms of discouraging individuals from less affluent backgrounds from pursuing a career as a solicitor: 77% of trainees felt that it would have a negative impact compared to 12% who did not; 35% of firms felt that it would have a negative impact compared to 52% who did not; and 80% of students, paralegals and others considering becoming a solicitor firms felt it would have a negative impact compared to 9% who did not. For more on the report read here.
The Law Society meanwhile had more straightforward news in its annual statistical report that showed training contracts rose by 11.6 per cent to 5,441 last year, after plummeting by 16 per cent to 4,874 in 2009-10. See story here.
However, with Legal Practice Course places predicted to have risen by 5 per cent, from 14,510 up to 15,166 between 2009-10 and 2010-11, the disparity between figures remain vast.
The Bar Standards Board’s research group (1 May 2012) also published a study comparing the backgrounds of pupillage applicants in 2009 and registered pupils in 2011, concluding “it would be wrong to conclude that the typical pupil is a whilte male who took a first-class honours degree, attended a fee-paying school and an Oxbridge university and has university-educated parents, but rather that each of these individual characterisitcs considered on their own is more prevalent in the pupillage population in comparison to the applicant population.”
Clearly more work needs to be done, including, as the BSB research group suggests, that all pupillage applicants complete an equality and diversity monitoring form and that all chambers identify which applicants were offered pupillage regardless of whether chambers is a member of the pupillage portal or not.
In other news, the College of Law has made its first foray into the legal education market in Asia (3 May 2012), while the NCLT has launched a reverse auction for a LPC spot (1 May 2012).