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Young Legal Aid Lawyers: Response to Law Society article on trainee salary

The Law Society has published findings which state that the number of trainee solicitors working for less than the recommended minimum salary is at its lowest point for three years.


The article, based on a survey of 500 trainees from across the UK, states that 25% of trainees in 2019 are paid below the recommended minimum, in comparison to 35% in 2018 and 31% in 2016. The average number of hours worked per week by trainees has also decreased from 43 hours to 42, although London-based trainees are still working an average of 2.5 hours more than their peers in the regions. It is unclear how many of those surveyed worked in legal aid firms. The survey, conducted by Douglas Scott, attributes the fall in numbers of trainees being paid less than the minimum to law firms reacting positively to criticism.


While Young Legal Aid Lawyers (‘YLAL’) welcomes the above findings, we note that there are still 25% of trainees being paid less than the recommended minimum salary. Low salaries have a direct impact on social mobility within the profession. Our third report into social mobility, published in March 2018, found that low pay was one of the biggest challenges facing young lawyers wishing to practise in the legal aid sector. All three of YLAL’s social mobility reports (2010, 2013 and 2018) found that low salaries in the legal aid sector were the main barrier to social mobility within the profession.


Although YLAL welcomes the improvements discussed above, they are as a result of steps taken by individual organisations to ensure their trainees are properly remunerated. These organisations are to be commended, but further progress across the sector as a whole is required. While YLAL acknowledges the difficulties faced by high street firms and other legal aid providers in the current climate, we believe that the future of access to justice depends on the continued recruitment of new generations of legal aid lawyers. We are concerned that even 8 years after our first report into social mobility, low salaries remain a major challenge faced by trainees and paralegals.


YLAL has lobbied the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’) on the reintroduction of the mandatory minimum salary since its removal in 2014 and will continue to do so. We welcome the move by the Bar Standards Board, in 2018, to introduce a mandatory minimum pupillage award which is in line with the Real Living Wage and the Law Society’s recommended minimum. We repeat our recommendations in our 2018 Report, ‘Social Mobility in a Time of Austerity’, and strongly urge the SRA to review its decision to abolish the requirement for a minimum wage for trainees.


Young Legal Aid Lawyers

18 January 2019




SRA Consultation Response

On 20 December 2017, YLAL responded to the latest consultation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on its plans to introduce a Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

The consultation, 'Looking to the future: phase two of our Handbook reforms', concerns a number of issues, including the introduction of the SQE and the streamlining of the SRA’s current character and suitability requirements for solicitors. 

You can read our response to this consultation below.


APPG on Legal Aid - 25.10.2017

Grenfell Tower: Fire and Safety issues in social housing

Minutes of the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Legal Aid, Wednesday 25 October 2017

Speakers: Giles Peaker (Partner, Anthony Gold), Justin Bates (Barrister, Arden Chambers), and Andrew Patterson (representing the Government’s review of building regulations and fire safety)

Parliamentarians: Karen Buck MP (Chair), Lord Jeremy Beecham, Alex Chalk MP, Emma Dent Coad MP, Andy Slaughter MP

YLAL South West minutes - 12.10.2017

Our latest event, Access to Justice Under Attack: Brexit, Charlie Gard and the Rule of Law was held on 12 October 2017 at Bristol Law Society. It took the form of a panel event and was chaired by Helen Law from Matrix Chambers, who did a fantastic job of tying together the key themes arising from the four talks, which all came at the issues from a different angle but demonstrated the inherent injustices in the current system.

YLAL writes for Legal Voice

YLAL's vice-chair Siobhan Taylor-Ward writes for YLAL's series in Legal Voice; This (young legal aid) life

"I have been asked by the Home office to provide the client with the decision as she has been referred for safeguarding. I break the news that her claim has been refused. Her face crumples in tears. The baby in the pram beside her knows enough to place her tiny hand upon her mum’s knee.

"She tells me her baby died in Africa — it was cot death — her claim stems from this one incident and its repercussions.

SRA Consultation Response

On 26 July 2017, YLAL responded to the latest consultation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on its proposal to introduce a Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The consultation, 'A new route to qualification: New Regulations', concerned the regulation of the SQE and the recognition of qualified lawyers under the SQE scheme.