Recommended rates of pay for trainees to increase
Trainee solicitors across Scotland are set to benefit after the Law Society agreed to increase their recommended pay for the first time in two years.
The Law Society's Council agreed to increase the recommended rate for trainee salaries by 3% from June to £16,700 in first year and £20,000 in second year. The rate had remained unchanged since June 2012.
The recommended rate is not compulsory and it is ultimately for the firm or in-house employer to decide how much they pay their trainees. All employers must pay their trainees at least the National Minimum Wage.
However, the Society's recommended rate is often used as a benchmark with almost seven out of every eight trainees currently paid at or above the recommended rate by their employers.
Christine McLintock, Convener of the Society's Education and Training Committee, said: "We need to strike the right balance when setting the recommended rate for trainee salaries. Trainees are the future of our profession and we want to see them being paid properly for the work they do. Equally, we know the fragile state of the economy means firms and companies are having to carefully control their costs, including salaries.
"The reality is that today's law graduates have more choice than ever before in terms of where to work after leaving university. Around half choose not to go into the solicitors' profession and new roles, such as legal analyst positions, are now opening up. We need to try and maintain competitive rates of pay so we can continue to attract the brightest and the best in becoming Scottish solicitors.
"However, we know some firms simply cannot afford to take on a trainee. It is a problem acutely felt in the legal aid sector where cuts to budgets and reduced rates of pay have left margins so tight that paying the recommended rate is often not feasible. For these firms the decision to take on a trainee is a difficult one and paying a salary below the recommended rate may be the only viable option. It was a point made strongly in the Council debate and underlines the need for us to continue to argue strongly for a properly funded system of legal aid so new solicitors can come in and carry on this critical area of work."
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