Minimum salary cut could increase trainee opportunities, says SRA

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has found that 70 per cent of law firms that do not hire trainees would ‘seriously consider’ doing so if the minimum salary was scrapped.

The findings come as part of its latest research on the review of trainee minimum salary, entitled the ‘Economic and Equality Impact Assessment’, which analyses the impact of the removal of minimum salary on training contracts and diversity.

Despite this result the text of the study states: “This finding does not indicate that the supply of training contracts would be increased by the SRA removing its regulation in this area, but it does suggest that more firms would consider delivering training.”

The analysis showed that 17 per cent of those that do not hire trainees would not change this, because it still would not be viable for the firms and also to avoid exploitation of trainees.

Of those that would consider offering hiring trainees, 69 per cent confirmed they would want to pay them less than the current minimum salary.

Meanwhile, for firms currently employing trainees 33.3 per cent indicated they would increase their training contract offering if the minimum pay was removed, while 66.7 per cent said they would not.

Elsewhere, the research into the impact on access and diversity revealed that female and BME trainees would be most affected, as they are more likely to have training contracts with smaller firms, while around 50 per cent of the trainees, students, paralegals and others considering the career route, felt their access to the profession could be restricted.

The impact would be felt most by female and BME trainees, who are more likely to have training contracts with small firms. Around half the trainees, students and paralegals surveyed were also concerned that their access to the profession could be restricted.

The SRA is inviting a response to the research by 11 May 2012. For more of the findings and profile of respondents, please see this link.