Recommended pay rates for trainees to increase
Trainee solicitors across Scotland are set to benefit after the Law Society of Scotland agreed an increase to its recommended pay rates.
The Law Society's Council today, Friday, 24 April, has agreed to a 2% increase, from June 2015, bringing the recommended pay rate to £17,034 for first year trainees and £20,400 for second year trainees. It follows a 3% rise in 2014, before which trainee rates had remained static for two years running.
The Society’s recommended rate is not compulsory and it is for individual law firms or in-house employers to decide how much they pay trainee solicitors. The recommended rate is often used as a benchmark for employers, with 92% of trainees currently paid at or above the recommended level.
In 2012, the Council determined that the National Minimum Wage must be paid to all trainees in respect of their contracted hours. In addition to setting the new recommended pay rate at today’s meeting, the Council discussed the Living Wage and expressed a desire to move towards the Living Wage as an alternative to the National Minimum Wage over the course of the next couple of years.
Law Society figures show traineeship opportunities have improved, with 530 traineeships registered in 2013/14. This represents an 11% increase compared to the number of traineeships registered in practice year* 2012/13. The statistics also show that 93% of trainees admitted in the last practice year are now employed as solicitors, compared to 88% in 2012/13.
Eilidh Wiseman, 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 them to be paid properly for the work they do. However we know that while there has been an improvement in the economy, which has undoubtedly contributed to the increased number of traineeships on offer, employers continue to have to control their costs, including salaries.
"The reality is that today's law graduates have more choice than ever before in terms of what kind of career they want to pursue. Around half choose not to join the solicitors' profession and new roles, such as legal analyst positions, offer an alternative and attractive career path in law. We need to do what we can to ensure that we continue to attract high calibre individuals to the profession, which includes maintaining competitive pay rates.
"It remains the case that some law firms simply cannot afford to 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.
“This underlines the need for us to continue to press, in the public interest, for an appropriately funded system of legal aid to help encourage new solicitors to enter this branch of the legal profession and to assist employers working in this area to offer employment opportunities.”
Note to editors
*The Law Society of Scotland practice year runs from 1 November to 31 October.
Further information about traineeships can be found on the Law Society website: