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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




Response to AGFS consultation

On 12 October 2018, Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) responded to the Ministry of Justice consultation on 'Amending the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme'. Our full response to the consultation is below.

We told the government that whilst we welcome the much-needed injection of additional funding into the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), we wish to make it absolutely clear that it is not enough. It is not enough to address the crisis within criminal legal aid and, more broadly, the criminal justice system as a whole.

YLAL Response to LASPO Review

YLAL has submitted its response to the Ministry of Justice Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

YLAL's submission concludes by setting out our analysis of the impact of LASPO in comparison to the stated aims of the legislation, within which our key proposals for reform are summarised.

Discouraging unnecessary and adversarial litigation at public expense

YLAL Response: Legal Aid for Inquests

Many of YLAL's members work closely with organisations such as INQUEST, the charity that supports bereaved families. YLAL supports the following recommendations by INQUEST in relation to legal aid for inquests:

a. Automatic non-means tested funding should be provided to families for specialist legal representation immediately following a state-related death.

b. Legal aid should also include financial support for families, with reference to: travel and subsistence, overnight accommodation, and loss of earnings.

YLAL's response to LASPO Part 2 consultation

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act Part II changed the way civil claims can be funded.
In YLAL's response to the Government's consultation, we call for an extension of Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting to Judicial Review, Actions Against the Police and Human Rights Act claims. 

YLAL believes that access to justice is imperative to the proper functioning of a democratic society. As such, it is a right rather than a benefit to be distributed at the State’s discretion.