SRA opts for £6.08 per hour for trainee solicitor minimum wage

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  • a reasonable outcome I think

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  • That is a thoughtful idea and will go some way in increasing access to the profession for students from less wealthy backgrounds, particularly as higher education is getting so much cheaper.

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  • This is such an idiotic move by the SRA. Whilst I understand this move will ease the financial burden on firms when it comes to hiring trainees, it is at the expense of widening access to the profession.

    The firms that will take most advantage of this will be high street firms, who generally hire students on the LPC. These students will be crippled by debt from the LPC and undergraduate fees (unless they have rich parents of course).

    Also, whilst it can be argued this may increase the number of training contracts, I doubt if it will filter through to more NQ positions. Therefore, all this will achieve will be a slight easing of the bottleneck of training contact 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.

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  • Surely this will make no tangible difference? As a trainee I worked 8-6 with no lunch aka 10 hours per day, I would suggest that this is pretty reasonable and representative of the kind of hours most trainees will do (outside of the city). By my reckoning this would come out at £17,680 for the year i.e. an increase on the £16,500 I think I was paid. Can't see a problem with that.

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  • @Anonymous | 16-May-2012 4:48 pm

    What nonsense. Why should the SRA artificially prop-up trainees salaries? More to the point why should trainees solicitors be treated any differently from anyone else and NOT be subject to the minimum wage - what makes solicitors special? I agree that LPC places are way too high but the issue is not with trainee salaries but with the number of LPC places.

    It is possible to live off the minimum wage (I have) and though it is hardly glamorous this is all the SRA should be doing i.e. ensuring that trainees are not exploited and have enough to live (as you would expect to get with any form of employment).

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  • Considering the amount of debt we, as law students, are expected to mount up in order to get the necessary qualifications, I think this is a disgusting decision. I started my law degree fully intending to enter the profession and now, quite honestly, have found my self priced out of it. My parents cannot afford to pay for my LPC or to help me out on such low wages for a training contract. This move is a real shame, and will have a significant impact on the number of students who can make it in to the profession. There are graduate jobs out there, not requiring an expensive post graduate course, with much higher starting figures than that. In fact, I receive more than £6.08 an hour for my part time retail job. 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.

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  • agree with the above points about pushing the bottleneck to NQ positions, which is arguably worse. However I really don't understand why everyone on the lawyer seems to think that every decision regarding the legal profession must be made solely for the purpose of "widening access". Since when did the legal profession take on the entire responsibility for social mobility?

    That said, playing around with salaries is utter nonesense anyway as the real issue is with the fact that we have 10,000 more LPC places than training contracts. The solution is not to pay people peanuts but to limit the number of LPC places making it more linked to actually having a job in the law, as with the accountancy profession

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  • Before I begin, just a note on any problems with undergraduate fees: at £6.08 an hour, that's not going to present any kind of issue.

    LPC fees, however, are a far more real and dangerous problem for budding lawyers that these changes will not help to alleviate in any way. Let's face it: for that kind of money these potential trainees could be doing literally any other non-apprenticeship job and not be saddled with the 5-figure debts attracting commercial interest rates (what are the going rates on these loans nowadays? ~7%?).

    I'd say that I hope that this maybe serves to devalue the LPC in the eyes of students, but considering that the LPC market has remained resilient in the face of a dearth of training contracts, that looks highly unlikely.

    Then again, perhaps it'll send the signal to students that the perception that if you get a training contract you're guaranteed a well-paying job for the rest of your career is wrong.

    Seeing as no concrete evidence of any kind of material upshot in the number of training contracts offered was ever presented by the SRA, I cannot see this as a good move. Indeed, it looks likely to be a costly gamble in attempt to win a pretty poor return.

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  • @Anonymous 4.48pm

    I could not agree more. I am a student about to graduate from a non-qualifying law degree and I have a place on the GDL at CoL for next year.

    After hearing of the SRA's decision, which I believe to be quite frankly foolish, I am beginning to fear the impact that this could have upon students like myself, who have no financial backing from parents. I dread to think what it will be like in two years time if I have to try and repay my tuition fee's + GDL + LPC on £6.08 an hour, with the looming prospect of having to then fight for highly contested NQ positions. I am guessing that this will have a similar effect on other prospective solicitors in my financial position and ultimately, further restrict access to the profession.

    What an absolute joke.

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  • If someone goes through four years of university training, invests thousands of pounds in developing abilities and is then worth £6.08 hour is there not something wrong with the training?

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  • How does this facilitate access or social mobility? It means those from poorer backgrounds surely are even less likely to be able to enter the profession when they can now be paid even less yet will have a heavier millstone of debt around their neck from the costs of training than might others. I qualified some years ago so it doesn't affect me remotely but think it's a negative move and can't really see any benefit to it other than huge savings for firms.

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  • The people who (a) compare law to other graduate jobs and (b) who say social mobility isn't important are misguide, short-sighted fools.

    At the end of the day (a) law isn't like other jobs. Irrespective of the fact law has a certain 'status', no other 'fresh otu of university' graduate job requires a £12 000 privately funded course - in fact, you could get 2 Master's degrees for that and become an academic if you really wanted to. Also, it creates the prospect of paralegals and secretaries being on more (or the same) as trainees when they haven't shelled out £ x xxx for the privilege - hardly a harmonious working environment or one that appreciates the level of education a trainee has gone through

    And (b) social mobility is important because law, like other professions, has to shake its elitist image and, as lawyers, we need a diverse profession that meets the needs of our clients, which is who we are there to serve.

    It's ok for people like me in the City but I do feel for others who, I suspect, will go to much smaller firms with no funded LPC.

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  • @Anonymous | 17-May-2012 10:53 am

    Yes, but you're forgetting no-one is forcing you to take on £40k+ worth of debt to realise your dream of being a solicitor you can equally choose not to do law and do something else which pays a reasonable wage for your degree education.

    Consider two examples: one completely self-funded student with no access to parental financing has got a good degree from a good university (paid for by student loans, part-time work, overdrafts etc.) and now faces a choice - do the LPC (£12-13K in fees alone + living cost) or do another job. If they elect to do the LPC then on completion they can choose between getting paid £6.08ph or again elect to get a different job and start paying off their debts. Ultimately, the student always has a choice. Let's say the student decides not to do law and gets a reasonable graduate job earning £20-25k.

    In another situation consider a student which has everything handed to them by their parents and then gets the same good degree from a good university, has the LPC paid for them and then takes a training contract which pays them £6.08ph. I'm not sure about you but personally other than being able to swan around at (budget) dinner parties and say "I'm a solicitor don't you know" the first situation seems much better to me.

    To those groaning about social mobility - you can never achieve 100% equality of opportunities, and its certainly not the SRAs job to make that happen anyway. Self-funders take on a risk when accumulating large amounts of debt (as does anyone taking on debt) and they need to realise that if £6.08ph is all you'll get at end of it - maybe it is not a great idea?

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  • The evidence on the impact of the minimum salary on social mobility is mixed. On the one hand it's abolition may lead to lower salaries for a minority of trainees but on the other hand it may lead to more trainee jobs being created. Those who criticise abolition have to explain why trainee solicitors should be unique in the workforce in having a salary fixed by a regulator rather than an employer. They also have to explain why it is OK for paralegals, who may also aspire to become solicitors, to be paid the statutory minimum wage but not trainees. The cost of the the LPC is no answer to this. There are many jobs where training has to be self funded and where post graduate training, with no guarantee of employment, is a necessity to stand a reasonable chance of gainng employment, in many cases in occupations with much lower long term salary prospects than solicitors and with equal uncertainty about the prospects of employment at all. Diversity is important but the answer to this is not a minimum wage for solicitors that is higher than for the rest of the population but a re-examination of the basis of solicitor training including a review as to whether the need to obtain a training contract is of itself a barrier to entry to the profession for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and whether there are better ways to train prospective solicitors. Such a review is now underway and those concerned to widen access to the profession would be better employed contributing to this debate than focussing on wage regulation which, at its best, is of marginal relevance to the issue. For details of the review see:http:// letr.org.uk

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  • Is it worth pointing out that £6.08 per hour is the national minimum wage (for non-apprenticeships)?

    Hopefully most small firms will be realistic and not pay trainees less than they would earn working in a local pub or supermarket.

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  • @ Anonymous | 17-May-2012 12:41 pm

    Your examples prove my point exactly...it will deter equally bright people (if not brighter people) from entering the profession simply because they're poorer and reduce quality as a result.

    You say everyone has a choice. Yes they do, and if everyone who is bright but unable to support themselves chooses not to be a lawyer, this will have long term implications for the number of lawyers and for social mobility. Not saying social mobility is the bee-all and end-all but things that have a high chance of reversing social mobility should be avoided. And as I have already said, the law is there to serve a diverse range of clients and needs to reflect such.

    Equally, if everyone of the parent-fund rich people chooses not to work for peanuts - same problem.

    Also, the anti-social mobility brigade may do well to remember that same said regulator recently elevated equality and diversity to a principle of professional conduct....

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  • It is funny how some people on here say:"Oh but you don't have to go into law. Do another job so you do not have to face the debt etc..".
    What happens to the people who actually want to be a lawyer? Should we just say "Well, screw my dream and my ambitions and all my hard work. I am going to be a consultant and yet will always look back in misery and onto my grades which could have gotten me into a decent law firm if it was not for the monopoly of a few course provider who charge the world for the course."

    It saddens me, as a student who actually wants to be a lawyer, that our dreams and desires are just easily washed away in this discussion.
    Funnly enough, the solution is quite simple:

    Make a central, nationwide LPC exam. You do not have to go to a course provider for that but if you have the money or are not able to believe in your own abilities to prepare for the exam. The result from this nation wide LPC is then used as an indicator for future employers.

    It would:
    a) Destroy the monopoly of course provider to charge 12-16k
    b) Gives an considerably fair chance for anyone to at least try and attempt the LPC (even with a compareable low 2:2 degree)
    c) Nobody cries about a destroyed or financially troubled future even if you do not get a training contract since the nation wide LPC exam would not be charged with 12-16k

    It may not reduce competition but at least it does allow a fairer access for people from poorer backgrounds and people who are unsuccesful in securing a TC would not face a difficult life in regard to debt. I may be naive but I do not see how such a system could be any worse than the one we currently have. The only thing I see at the moment, as a person that knows legal training in other countries, is a protectionism of LPC provider by the SRA.

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  • Some people forget that there are parts of the country where the pay is even less in the profession.

    The minimum salary for a trainee in Belfast is £12,400, rising to £14,040 in your second year.

    If you are purely in the profession for the money then you're better off deterred.

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  • £6.08 an hour is a wage - no more excuses for not paying overtime?

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  • Some good ideas in response.

    Why not simply make the LPC and PSC a compulsory part of the Training Contract and something firms have to pay for?

    This way firms will buy into the LPC more, thus I expect driving down cost and increasing the value of the same by directly inputting on course content.

    In addition this then prevents the huge debt for those who can't afford it but deserve a chance based on ability. Also of course it would mean that you would have to get a Contract first so no more hit and hopes for people who in reality will never get one?

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