Trainees must be paid properly under SQE

Providers of training contracts and qualifying work experience (QWE) should pay aspiring solicitors £20,217 outside London and £22,794 in the capital, the Law Society warned ahead of the 1 September launch of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “The legal profession is set to face its biggest change in 30 years when the SQE begins on 1 September.

“This is why we are recommending that people doing the QWE must be paid the same as those completing a training contract.

“As both schemes will run in parallel in the coming years, due to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) transitional arrangements, this update will ensure parity across both routes.

“The solicitors’ profession offers an incredibly fulfilling career. With the implementation of the SQE, firms should be clear that employees, no matter which route they take, will be treated fairly.”

The recommended minimum salary, introduced by the Law Society in 2015 after the SRA ended the regulatory requirement of a minimum payment for trainees, is updated annually.

In February, the recommended rate rose 1.1 per cent to the current amount. It came into effect on 1 May 2021 and employers were encouraged to implement the increase as soon as they could, on or after this date and at least within six months.

The Law Society worked closely with our Junior Lawyers Division (JLD), which supports this policy on behalf of its members.

JLD chair Manda Banerji said: “Entry to the solicitors profession should be on merit only and an individual’s financial means should not pose a barrier for them to enter the profession; such barriers result in the profession losing talent and representation from diverse communities.

“The JLD believes that the implementation of a recommended minimum salary for those completing training will have a positive impact on social mobility, equality and diversity within the legal profession.

“The JLD is pleased to have worked with the Law Society to amend the recommended minimum salary policy to include those employed to undertake QWE under the new SQE regime so that those undertaking the new route to qualification are not disadvantaged. The JLD urges firms to adopt the recommendation.”

Notes to editors

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Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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