JLD rails against minimum wage abolition

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is campaigning for a recommended minimum wage, after the trainee minimum wage was abolished by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

JLD chair Max Harris, a Baker & McKenzie associate, said at the JLD’s annual dinner on Saturday that the abolition of the minimum wage, which ceased to exist in August 2014, “causes great difficulties from a social mobility perspective, with individuals who are unable to rely on parenting support being stifled (at least in part) from entering the profession.”

He added today: “I think the social mobility standpoint is the main reason for our objection but there are other reasons too: the fact that it is exploitative is one. The thing that makes the legal profession different is that lawyers have to do the Legal Practice Course. 

“It is not City firms which this affects, but high street firms, which do not sponsor their trainees through the LPC.”

The JLD is working with the Law Society on a consultation to introduce a recommended minimum wage, which should reach its final stages in July. The Law Society does not have the power to impose a minimum wage upon firms but would publish the guideline with the aim of discouraging firms from paying below that amount.

It would also develop a system whereby firms which abided by the recommended wage would be able to say so within their recruitment advertising, thereby drawing attention to firms which did not comply.

When asked whether he believed that a recommended minimum wage would carry any weight, Harris replied: “I think it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t believe that we would say it’s the answer to all the queries we’ve received [from affected trainees], but it is a step and will continue to engage with the SRA on this matter.”