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Young lawyers call on SRA to delay scrapping minimum wage

19 March 2012

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) of the Law Society has called on the SRA to delay its consultation on scrapping the minimum wage.

The SRA announced its plans at the start of this year for the move, which could lead to trainees being paid the national minimum wage (see solicitorsjournal.com, 16 January 2012).

Camilla Graham Wood, an executive committee member of the JLD, said the regulator’s timing was “atrocious” in launching the plans.

“The reasons for not consulting on this now far outweigh the reason for doing so, apart from the obvious fact that the economic climate remains unstable, there is also the uncertain matter of what impact alternative business structures will have on trainees and their pay,” she said.

“Add to that the potential fall out from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill and its impact on young lawyers working in legal aid and it is clear that the timing of this is atrocious.”

Graham Wood said there was a “real danger” that young people from less wealthy backgrounds could be denied access to the profession.

“At the very least, the SRA should opt for common sense and await the outcome of the Legal Education and Training Review before even contemplating putting a removal of the minimum wage on the agenda.

“The JLD is in no doubt that the minimum salary must stay, but if the SRA insists that the matter must be consulted on it should be done at a time when there is greater stability in the new legal services market.”

Graham Wood added that the JLD has made a freedom of information request to the SRA on a range of questions concerning trainee solicitor pay.

A spokesman for the SRA said the consultation was open until Easter and “all views would be taken into account”.

He said the JLD was a “key stakeholder” and emphasised that the consultation was about whether the regulator should set the minimum salary. The Law Society set the salary until 2007.

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Education & Training Legal Aid