As I approach the end of my own training contract, my fear is that eradicating the minimum wage greatly reduces access to a profession which was previously open to individuals from all backgrounds.
Applicants without financial support from their family are now expected to fund their LPC and support themselves through a training contract on minimum wage. LPC loan repayments can be up to £400 per month which is almost half of what a minimum wage trainee may take home each month. Does this effectively bar those from lower socio-economic groups?
Sophia Dirir, chair of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society has said: ‘The minimum salary is inadequate in all areas of the country, for individuals who are already carrying significant debt.’
It seems that the purpose of the trainee minimum wage has now been overlooked; to encourage high calibre graduates but protect them from exploitation. However, it’s still early days so let’s hope that the true effect of the removal of the minimum wage isn’t as discriminatory as it appears.
From 2014 firms will no longer be obliged to pay trainees a minimum salary above the national minimum wage following the decision made by the SRA Board...The change will come into effect on 1 August 2014. After that date the only requirement on employers in terms of trainee salaries will be to pay trainees at least the main rate for employees under the National Minimum Wage Regulations.