Minimum salary cut could increase trainee opportunities, says SRA

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  • Suprise suprise - law firms would support a move to pay trainees less money. Thereby obtaining 2 years of slave labour, resulting in an increased number of qualifiers competing for a static number of NQ posts further down then line. Hardly a good move is it?

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  • Couldn't have put it better myself. Also, what about the effect of this on access to the profession for those from low-income backgrounds? Surely it will hinder those who are burdened with paying their own costs of education, ultimately giving an advantage to those who benefit from wealthy parents/other family members.

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  • I for one never understood why there was a minimum wage for trainees and then another minimum wage for every other type of employee - so in that sense I can see why SRA should remove the min-salary.

    However, instead of just leaving a 'void' whereby smaller firms would have an incentive to exploit those who would otherwise not have a training contract I would welcome a complete equalisation of the minimum wage (and not this nonsensical 'apprentice' tariff of £2-3ph). Also, 'leaving it to the market' is a terrible idea as given the shortage of positions and large number of graduates there is only way wages are going - down.

    I assume bigger firms will continue to pay high salaries as they are trying to attract better graduates (whether more £ equals better trainees I will leave for readers to decide).

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  • I am able to see it from both sides but I come down on the side of retaining the minimum salary.

    The SRA would have been better off looking at the excessive number of LPC places compared to Training Contract places which would have been of more benefit to all concerned. Firms could have had an input on what they need resulting in a more focused approach instead of LPC and debt for all and potentially a TC for the well off and an NQ job for the lucky few? I think it is unlikely the minimum will now be retained. The only good thing might be that there will now be a greater sanity check for those looking to embark on the LPC without some form of financial backing so fewer will get themselves into debt they will then never truly benefit from having incurred.

    Of course many will still take the flyer in the hope that perseverance will pay off.

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  • Agree with James T-M: totally understand that one can entertain the idea of scrapping the minimum salary to help smaller firms but will those TCs translate into NQ jobs?

    While important, this goes beyond just talking about issues of diversity which tend to make things overly emotive. The really issue is that LPC providers are allowed to offer 10,000 more places than there are TCs. Should we not look at putting a cap on LPC places? It's outrageous that providers will give people false hope by taking you on an LPC course with grades that they know have no chance of getting your foot in the door at any firm be it magic circle or preston high street..

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  • You are correct in saying it will make people think twice about embarking upon the LPC without some form of financial backing. But this is precisely my point: effectively it will result in those from low-income backgrounds having a limited access the profession, and those with wealthy parents still won't think twice about incurring the costs of the LPC, just like they don't currently.

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  • Anonymous | 7-May-2012 5:29 pm

    i think you're missing the point though: whether you're rich and self fund, or poor and self fund, the real issue here is not raising the finances to do the LPC but the fact that there are 3 times as many LPC places as there are training contracts: if more people had to have sponsorship from a law firm before embarking on the LPC then whether you're rich or poor, you're not being sold the false hope that doing the LPC is going to automatically get you a TC.

    i'm not advocating scrapping the minimum salary, I think that should be kept to stop smaller firms essentially exploiting trainees as cheap labour, but something has to be done to limit the number of LPC places. There is no point taking a professional practice course unless you're going into practice: is there not a way to link it closer to employment like with the accountancy exams or financial trading clearances etc?

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  • I think its completely right to limit the number of LPC places, and also you need to tell GDL students the reality of what they're signing up to. I was aware of how tough Law is from the first yr of my law degree, but GDL students are often not made aware of how tough things are in todays market.

    In terms of minimum wage, I think the SRA are essentially going to take us back in time to the Legal Profession being those from families who can help out if they drop it. I know solicitors who joined the profession before minimum wages and students were offering to do a TC for free; how can anyone who needs a reasonable wage compete with that. The minimum is not that high, especially for a professional job (compared with doctors/teachers etc), and as a fee earner you should be earning money in essence to pay for yourself.
    The situation with Pupillages not having minimum wage should be an example of how it limits access to the profession to certain social groups. I just hope the SRA has the sense not to do this, sadly they look determined to find any excuse to do it, at the expense of those who will be exploited by it.

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