Recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors and SQE candidates
As a matter of good practice, we're recommending that providers of training contracts and qualifying work experience should pay their employees £22,794 in London and £20,217 outside London.
With the removal of a regulatory minimum salary by the SRA in 2014, firms are now required to pay no more than the national minimum wage.
However, we're recommending a minimum salary of £22,794 in London and £20,217 outside London.
Who does this guidance applies to?
You should consider paying an employee the recommended minimum salary if you, as a firm or organisation, are:
- employing someone for a period of recognised training (a training contract), or
- employing a Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) candidate for the primary purposes of them gaining qualifying work experience
It's good practice to reach a formal agreement on the primary purpose of the individual’s employment, as the arrangements for qualifying work experience are much more flexible than the period of recognised training.
Additionally, it's likely that individuals in various roles, such as paralegals, may also be able to accrue qualifying work experience over the course of their employment.
This guidance does not apply where the person gaining qualifying work experience is not employed by you, for example if they're gaining experience at a university legal clinic as part of, or alongside, their studies.
Why should my organisation adopt the recommended minimum salary?
The solicitors’ profession remains one of quality and integrity.
This profession has long supported an ethos that entry to the profession should be on merit, and that the following should not be a barrier to entry:
- marital status
- sexual orientation
- gender identity
- religion or belief
- social background
Many employers have developed recruitment policies that enshrine these values, and we know that businesses, including law firms, benefit from a diverse workforce.
We believe that employers paying the recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors could have a positive impact on equality and diversity within the legal profession, in addition to being good practice in supporting entrants to the profession.
Employers adopting this recommendation help to promote this as good practice, and employers are welcome to advertise that they do so.
We've also worked closely with the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) on this recommendation.
The JLD supports this policy on behalf of its members, who are most affected by it and would see the most positive effects of a minimum salary that sits at a higher rate to the alternative, which is the minimum wage.
How is this recommended minimum salary calculated?
The Consumer Price Index's (CPI) 12-month rolling inflation rate, which is an average of the previous 12 months' inflation rate, is used to calculate each year's rise in the recommended minimum salary.
The CPI is used due to guidance from the Office of National Statistics.
The rate will be reviewed in June each year, with the new rate coming into effect on 1 September.
Will there be any consequences if we do not pay our trainees this salary?
No, there is no regulatory requirement to pay this recommended minimum salary, and there will be no consequences for not doing so.
We believe that this salary represents good practice in hiring a trainee or an SQE candidate employed to undertake qualifying work experience.
We would encourage employers to consider this salary when deciding how much to pay these employees.