How quickly the past 21 months have gone. I have three months remaining before I embrace life as a Newly Qualified solicitor (and believe me, everything is crossed that an NQ opportunity presents itself here for me at Howard Kennedy). However, continued economic uncertainty and recent decisions from the SRA marks the beginning of the end of something far more important.
As I type this blog, President Obama is hosting leaders from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia and the European Union. Discussions at the G8 summit will almost certainly focus upon the need for ‘necessary measures’ and ‘immediate and decisive action’ in order to prevent the Eurozone from impending implosion and potentially the end of the common market as we know it.
The ‘Grexit’, so it has been coined, seems to be looming ever larger on the horizon. Where would the exit of Greece leave the Euro? Where would it leave Britain? Try as I might to provide meaningful answers to such questions, I am painfully reminded that I am far from versed in the prose of economic meltdown. However, what has also become clear, is that I am not alone. Nobody out there seems to know the answer to those questions. Or rather, uncertainty as to how the situation in Greece may finally unfold is preventing many a leading economist from predicting the short and long term effects. Ever the optimist though, I believe in the strength of Britain’s economy and although it may be a long old slog, I think Britain will see its way through these tough times and hopefully, the number of opportunities for graduates will begin to rise.
I wish I could turn now to lighter news, but as you will no doubt be well aware, the SRA have decided to partially deregulate the trainee solicitor minimum wage. The trainee solicitor minimum wage will be scrapped with effect from September 2014 and the SRA will instead implement a minimum salary at the main rate of the National Minimum Wage, currently £6.08 an hour. There are many who will argue that this will immediately prevent poorer students from being able to walk their preferred career path. This is a weighty argument and one which can only be taken seriously, but it seems to me that the SRA’s decision will also serve to increase the number of training contracts on offer – that has to be good news, doesn’t it?
Whatever my thoughts though, whatever the thoughts of the leading economists and leading legal journalists the reality is that a career in law, and indeed a career in anything, is hard to come by at present. Graduates need to be committed to their choices now more than ever. Graduating law students must be prepared to grab whatever legal experience they can enthusiastically with both hands and an unwavering grip. Good luck to us all.
Ezra Smith, trainee, Howard Kennedy
Photo by cliff1066 via Flickr.