Minimum salary battle turns chilly

Following up on the trainee minimum wage changes announced, in the face of much opposition, by the Solicitors Regulation Authority yesterday Hekim Hannan the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) chair gave me a telling insight into relations between the JLD and the SRA board over the issue.

Hannan said “The SRA board haven’t made any direct contact with the JLD and brushed off our FOI requests. Myself and Vice-Chair Heather Iqbal-Rayner met a couple of board members at an SRA event in the Commons in February this year.

“Their minds had already been made up with weak arguments such as that they didn’t have a minimum salary in my day, that they have to cut costs and think of their shareholders and other such statements. They were in no mood to listen or debate. They were under the misapprehension that there would be more training contracts but were unable to provide evidence of any firm that would guarantee more training contracts.

“As for their board meeting, with it being a public meeting in part we would have thought that the SRA would have extended an invitation to the JLD for us to attend given their decision directly affects our members and we have been described as a ‘key stakeholder’.

“But there was no invitation, we happened by chance to realise that there would be a public section of the meeting a few days beforehand and we contacted the SRA and notified them of our intention to attend. They weren’t welcoming; it was almost as though they didn’t want us there.”

In view of yesterday’s decision, I can’t imagine that relations will warm up anytime soon. Lawyer2B will be watching to see if there is any further frosting.