Students of poverty

Trainee solicitors do not have an easy ride into the profession – many bring with them considerable debts from their student days.

One in eight respondents to a recent survey carried out by the Trainee Solicitors Group said they had a debt of £10,000 or more, while the average debt was £5,000. One in three law students have to work to pay their way through their Legal Practice Course. Now they are having to justify retaining a minimum salary.

The TSG, in its response to the Law Society's consultation paper on the matter, says that abolishing the minimum salary would be unjust to those in debt. Further, the group says that retention is essential if the profession is to compete effectively in recruiting the most able graduates, if it is committed to a high standard of training and if it wishes to keep a reputation for being open to all.

The TSG is right. Of course firms will want to have an option on salaries. But the Law Society and the profession in general has an obligation to make sure that its trainee lawyers receive the best possible training. And as the TSG points out, if firms are not able to guarantee minimum salaries, they are hardly likely to consider training a top priority.