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Focus groups gather feedback on salary consultation

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is holding a series of focus groups as part of its consultation on whether or not it should continue to set the annual minimum rate of pay for trainee solicitors.

The SRA launched the consultation in January following agreement from its Board on 11 January. The issue has not been reviewed since the SRA was formed in 2007 and it took over responsibility for prescribing the compulsory minimum rate.

The consultation exercise runs until Tuesday 10 April, and views are sought from the profession, trainers, students and other interested parties on the proposals. As part of this drive to gather feedback a series of four focus groups has been set up.

Tim Pearce, SRA Policy Executive said "We want as many people as possible to take part in the discussions around the minimum salary, so please get in touch if you're interested. The legal profession has become incredibly diverse, so we want participants from a variety of backgrounds to come along and give us their perspective."

The focus groups cover two days, with the first day for employers and the second day for trainees and students. Each daily session takes place from 6pm until 8pm.

They will take place at:

  • Holiday Inn, Guildford, Wednesday 29 February and Thursday 1 March
  • Grand Connaught Rooms, London, Monday and Tuesday, 5 and 6 March
  • Marriott Hotel, Cardiff, Wednesday and Thursday, 7 and 8 March
  • Renaissance Hotel, Manchester, Tuesday and Wednesday, 13 and 14 March (trainees and students – please note that all places are currently full for this date)

Find out more about the focus groups.

The minimum wage policy dates back to 1982 before the introduction of a national minimum wage and was originally designed to protect trainees from being exploited, and to encourage high-calibre graduates into the profession. The current levels, £18,590 in Central London and £16,650 outside, have been frozen in the past two years to reflect the current economic downturn.

Samantha Barrass, SRA Executive Director, said when the consultation was launched: "As we point out in our consultation paper, there is no clear evidence that setting a minimum salary fulfils any of the Legal Services Act's regulatory objectives. We do not regulate prices, including rate of pay, in any other area of our work.

"We have compared the practice with other professional regulators and found very few examples where this occurs. It would appear setting a minimum salary does not address any identified risk to the public interest or the rule of law, nor is it clear that it improves access to the profession."

Find out more about the consultation.

 The SRA Board meets on 16 May to make a final decision, taking into account the responses to the consultation and an impact assessment.  

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