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Average trainee pay falls in England since minimum abolished: research
Average pay for trainee solicitors in England & Wales has fallen since the Law Society south of the border abolished minimum salary requirements, a new study has found.
Research for the Solicitors Regulation Authority reported in the Law Society Gazette, reveals that since the Society ended its minimum rates in 2014, salaries are down by an average £560 a year.
Lowest paid trainees have been the worst hit: whereas the minimum rate in 2014 was £16,650 outside central London and £18,590 within that area (equivalent to £17,700 and £19,800 today), the lowest paid 2% are now earning £13,104 a year or less. This is most likely to affect those in criminal, litigation and real estate work – and black and minority ethnic trainees are also disproportionately hit.
In contrast, 32% of trainees – those working for City law firms – are earning between £35,000 and £40,000 a year.
There has also been a slight widening of the mean gender pay gap, from £332 to £460, and the median female trainee salary is £24,866 compared with £27,849 for men.
However the study also found that most firms and trainees (82% and 75% respectively) feel the change has had a neutral impact.
In Scotland the Law Society does not set minimum rates but a recommended rate for trainee salaries, which from 1 June will rise to £19,000 for first year trainees and £22,000 for second years. About 90% of trainees are paid at or above these rates.
Trainees in Scotland must be paid at least the living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation; in England & Wales the minimum rate is the national minimum wage.