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Whether or not Marie Antoinette, as an example of her obliviousness to the people, ever uttered these words is debatable but the decision of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) yesterday to scrap the trainee minimum salary in favour of the main rate in the National Minimum Wage is clear for all to see - particularly for those who could soon be mounting the barricades in opposition.
Following a five-month consultation, the SRA board has confirmed that the change to a minimum of £6.08 per hour will come into effect in August 2014, meaning a £35 hour week equates to an annual salary of £11,065.
The SRA minimum salary is currently set at £16,650, rising to £18,590 for Central London.
In a statement SRA executive director Samantha Barrass said: “This decision was based on an objective consideration of very full and detailed evidence gathered through a variety of sources.”
That may be so but the mood in the comments section on Lawyer2B is restive and suggests that many prospective lawyers aren’t buying it.
“An idiotic move… all this will achieve will be a slight easing of the bottleneck at training contract application stage and shift it to qualification … It is quite clear that the SRA do not care in the slightest about social mobility, LPC students, trainee solicitors or the future lifeblood of the profession.”
“A disgusting decision… I wonder who this was truly meant to benefit, because I can assure you, it isn’t graduates. Easing the pressure on firms in the here and now is all very well, but such a move jeopardises the future of the profession if there is such a bias towards those with money rather than ability.”
Meanwhile the Junior Lawyers’ Division (JLD) has come out strongly against the SRA and appears to be rallying the troops, see our story here.
For more on the chilly relations between the SRA and the JLD on this issue see our blog post here and for a view from someone just starting out on a legal career see final year non-law student Daniel Galbraith’s blog post here.