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

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  • I have survived paying rent in Leeds in a shared flat on £13,000.00 per year as a paralegal and I know some people who only earn £12,000.00 per year. Yes times are tough for graduates (I should know I am looking for a training contract), but seriously stop complaining, it could be a lot worse.

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  • @Anonymous | 17-May-2012 1:35 pm

    I agree - there will be situations where equally qualified applicants are barred from the profession but the point from my examples is not that. It is simply that you are not forced to work for peanuts. Few firms will pay salaries this low and the ones that do will have to accept that the quality of graduates they receive is likely to be the same as other jobs paying similar wages. Whilst other jobs are free to pay more and attract graduates this way. Law is not special and does not justify a higher salary over other careers.

    But don't get me wrong I think LPC fees are ridiculous and the SRA is better tackling this than the minimum wage. A small number of very expensive LPC providers does no-one any favours - having a centrally set exam and allowing students to choose different ways of passing it (including self-taught methods) I think is a very good idea; or perhaps putting a cap on places to be closer to the actual number of training contracts on offer.

    My thinking is that students have a choice of many other careers and I dont think we should be incentivising them (by virtue of a higher salary) to choose a legal career over any other career. All career choices have their ups and downs and students will have to weigh-up their options and realise they are taking a risk (taking on so much debt) in choosing law and that less risky options exist. Those that have "dreams" of becoming solicitor should be realistic that this may never happen and we should at the very least expect them to look at other options rather than collect debt like pokemon and then complain that the SRA should be helping them pay it off.

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  • @ Anonymous 12.41pm

    Quite frankly I think you are missing the point completely, in fact, I would go as far to say that I'm not even sure if you have any idea wha the point is.

    So you say that it is the student's choice to take on the £40k worth of debt to qualify, and if they don't want the debt, then do something else...

    You say that students can complete their degree, but then elect to do a different job to pay off the debt if they don't want to fork out for the LPC. I ask you, what would the point of doing a degree be, if you were then going to elect to do a different job just to pay off the debt?

    You say people groan about social mobility and that it's not the SRA's job to make it happen anyway. That is quite strange, seems as though I was under the impression that the regulating body of the legal profession would be held accountable for regulating the profession, no?

    You say you would rather opt for the first of the two situations which you outlined, and I'm guessing that is because you have absolutely no idea of what the first one is like. When I read your comments it seems to me like you are oblivious to the fact that this decision will ultimately deter those who are financially burdened from entering the profession.

    I'll show you the workings out: at £6.08 per hour, 35 hours a week, monthly earnings would stand at £851.20. Now consider the current repayments on loans for the LPC, between £300-£400 pounds a month. That would leave roughly £450 a month spare. Then take away student finance repayments and overdraft repayments, and I doubt whether you are left with enough to rent a flat, nevermind clothing or feeding yourself.

    What this means is that people who benefit from the bank of mum and dad will not think twice about doing the course, just like they don't now, and people like me who have trained for 5 years and put in countless hours of hard work, will be priced out of the profession.

    This decision is foolish to the point where it enfuriates me to even read some of the comments that suggest maybe I go on down to Asda and hand in a CV, with the hope that I can count my chickens and start paying off my debts rather than do the LPC. Ridiculous.

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  • Daniel,

    you make some good points regarding how it is indeed wrong to simply suggest those who do not want to be in debt take other jobs. I also completely disagree with the decision by the SRA to scrap the minimum salary.

    However the rest of your comment is nonsense. Firstly it's simply boring now when self-funded LPC students go on about how hard they have worked. Everyone has. Get over it. The fact that you self-funded your LPC in no way means that you worked harder than those who have their places funded or those whose parents can afford to pay. In fact if it suggests anything it is that you didn't work hard enough at getting the grades or on your applications in order to secure a TC before you took the LPC.

    All this debating about minimum salaries is a complete waste of time and a smoke screen for the real issue here which is that there are too many LPC places! The irony is that it is the very people who self-fund, taking on silly amounts of debt, who drive the providers to be able to charge stupidly high fees and offer places to any who applies. Like others have said, more training contracts won't equate to more NQ positions. The SRA needs to focus on reducing the number of people who do the LPC. It is a professional course that should only be taken if you have secured a TC.

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  • There are a lot of people who seem to support this move based on the fact they are in a tough spot and feel like they are justifying the sacrifices they have made by adopting a I'll take all comers attitude, or maybe some of you genuinely believe you have to take 10 years of shit before finally make it in law. But this decision just comes in the context of the fragmentation of low and high earners in our society. The fact is the current high unemployment and wage depression in a society co-exists with booming wealth for the top percentiles and among them partners in large law firms. On the one hand they say the can't afford to increase training contract vacancies but on the other they make exisitng NQs and trainees work 70 hour weeks and the biggest firms have PEPs of around half a million. In this context this decision is just the latest in an effort by those already in privileged positions to kick away the ladder after themselves and chisel away opportunities for the future generations.

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  • I can't agree more with Daniel's comment(s) in particular the SRA's duty to regulate the profession. I find it extrememly hard to swallow the arguments of the SRA that a minimum salary is not conducive to their 'outcomes focuses regulation' when one of the pillars of that argument is that no other regulator sets a minimum salary for their profession. Well none of my neighbours recycle their waste so why should I bother?!?

    Perhaps it's just naive of me to think that, just as a solicitor has moral and ethical obligations to safegurad the interests of his clients, the SRA has a moral and ethical obligation to safeguard the interests of its professionals - and that includes trainees.

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  • Seems to me that there are two separate issues - what is the reasonable minimum wage for a trainee and how should the funding of the GDL and LPC be arranged.

    Personally, I don't think it is unreasoanble to pay the minimum wage to a trainee. It may create more TC opportunities in smaller firms. I also think some trainees have an overinflated view of their worth to the firm. It costs more than the salary paid to train you to be a qualified solicitor. The minimum wage is for a limited period, when you qualify, you would then expect to see a decent increase in salary at which point paying off the cost of the LPC and GDL will become that bit easier.

    To the person who complained about "what about those of us who really want to be lawyers", no ones stopping you, you just have to accept the reality of the situation, suck it up for a few years, get on with it and play the long game. As a career changer and someone who self-funded the GDL and LPC, that's exactly what I did.

    The main issue is the funding and expecting GDL and LPC fees to be paid whilst still a trainee. This is where the Law Society (as opposed to the SRA) should step in and try engage with lenders to provide loans where the commencement of repayment is deferred until qualification. It doesn't remove the problem of repayment and ultimately the borrower will pay more, but at least they won't have to start paying the loans until (hopefully) there are in a better financial position to do so.

    Lawyers in the making may also wish to think about the reality of the future. Except for a small proportion, don't expect qualification as a solicitor to be the golden goose it used to be. There are plenty of other roles out there paying similar or better money without the stress or hours that solicitor has to deal with.

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  • The LPC and it's associated cost has forced me out of following a dream I've had since being 10 years old to being a solicitor. But, being from what would be considered a low-income family, resilience has embedded itself in my psyche and I shall seek a career in the legal profession through an alternative route, I wanted to specialise in family law anyway, dare I say following the CILEx route could be a possibility now? It's still real law work, still in the area that I wished to practice, and pay before getting to that point will be more than £6.08 an hour!

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  • Stop whining, such overwhelming sense of entitlement. First, being paid min wage is not valuing you the same as a shelf stacker. You are still training, once trained you will go on to earn substantial sums, the shelf stacker will still be stacking. Two, as alluded to in previous para, you are still training but now, instead of paying, you are being paid. Being paid to be trained! If you don't want the training contract then go shelf stacking and leave the way clear for someone who does.

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  • Last week's announcement that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) would be scrapping the minimum salary for trainee solicitors has angered many within the profession. As a 2nd year law student who is perilously close to his overdraft limit all of the time, it might seem illogical that I am supportive of this new measure...
    For more opinion see http://www.thebuddinglawyer.co.uk/2012/05/trainee-solicitors-minimum-rage.html

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