Charlotte Frobisher writes on behalf of Duncan Gibbins Academy about the removal of trainee minimum wage and how CILEx could be an alternative option.
Having read the various articles going around about the pros and cons of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) removal of trainee minimum wage for trainee solicitors, I myself have opinions for why it is a good idea and why it is not. At the moment, I am currently studying the CILEx Graduate Fast Track Diploma and will hopefully be graduating this June.
I graduated from university with a law degree last year and I did look at studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC). While in university, students were not made aware of the alternative routes to becoming a qualified lawyer and the LPC was the only route advertised to us. I carried out my own research and came across CILEx. After weighing up the costs and comparing the job prospects between the LPC and CILEx, I felt that the legal executive route was best for me.
Trainee Minimum Wage – CILEx Option
For those who do not know much about the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, it is a ‘professional’ institute that offers alternative and flexible careers in law and in October 2011, it received it’s Royal Charter. A Chartered Legal Executive lawyer specialises in a particular area of law, and will have been trained to the SAME STANDARD as a solicitor in that area. Studying through CILEx opens up a lot of different paths into a career in law. These vary from Legal Secretary Qualifications, Paralegal Qualifications and also Lawyer Qualifications.
Removing the trainee minimum wage does, in theory, put them earning roughly the same amount as a Paralegal. LPC graduates may be put off by this as they may feel that they are ‘above’ Paralegals and should be earning more after all their training. This I understand; but in a profession that requires training on the job, you have to be willing to work your way up the ladder.
As mentioned in previous articles, studying at university and then progressing onto the LPC does leave graduates in a large amount of debt. However, there is an alternative to this and it is just as serious and respectable as any solicitor.
The course that I am currently studying, in total, costs around £2,500 and the only loan I have to pay back is my student loan from university. The CILEx Graduate Fast-Track Diploma is available to law graduates. The cost of the course is split up – course fees to the college that you chose to study at, membership fees to CILEx, assessment fees and the exemption fee.
While studying this course, it allows the student to learn and earn at the same time. The student can expect to have a full time job, working 9-5 five days a week and then attend college lectures two evenings a week. On top of this, there is coursework with strict deadlines, finding the time to revise, keep up to date with work and not forgetting to have a social life.
For those who feel that legal executives are below that of a solicitor and who agree with a few comments in previous articles that have stated that those who are ‘serious’ about becoming a solicitor should not have to be ‘stuck’ in a paralegal role, this clearly shows that they do not value what Legal Executives achieve and go through in becoming qualified.
With the removal of the trainee minimum wage, this could potentially make LPC graduates more aware of the hard work that is carried out by other qualified legal professionals and that they too are not the only ones that have spent a lot of time and money on their education.
I can understand why it may hit most students hard and it may be a bit of an insult making them believe that after all their hard work and effort, they will only be on a minimum wage. They will have a large amount of debt to pay back and as some will have the help from friends and family, most will not have this support.
The main reason of this article is to make law graduates, and graduates of any degree, more aware that there is an alternative to studying the LPC. It requires the same commitment and hard work as the Legal Practice Course, but it is cheaper, there are more Paralegal and Legal Assistant jobs and once qualified, you are recognised as being trained to the same standard as a solicitor in the area of law that you have specialised in. Legal Executives can expect to earn up to £35,000-£55,000 (much higher in big cities or even becoming a partner in a firm).
The question I would like to ask is – do LPC graduates, qualified solicitors and even government bodies still think that legal executives are not serious or dedicated about becoming qualified?
One article states: ‘Even if a trainee is being paid the equivalent average salary of a Paralegal today, AT LEAST they will be getting trained and ever closer to their first NQ role at which point their salary will most likely increase relatively substantially’
Yes this is correct, trainee solicitors will be getting paid the same as a Paralegal, but just because a Paralegal doesn’t have the LPC qualification it does NOT mean that they aren’t getting trained and ever closer to their first NQ role, again, at which their salary will increase to that on par with a solicitor.
The SRA’s removal of the trainee minimum wage for trainee solicitors, as we have seen from other articles written by various people, does bring both positive and negative points for law graduates to consider when deciding whether or not they will be able to afford a minimum wage income until they have successfully completed their training. But for law students who are coming to the end of their degrees or who are thinking about what to study at university, don’t let the removal of the minimum wage put you off a career in law altogether. There are other, just as serious and professional routes to take where you are able to work your way up the ladder if you choose to do so.
Removal of Trainee Minimum Wage – Your Views
The removal of trainee minimum wage for trainee solicitors has been a hot topic of debate over the past few weeks with students tweeting and commenting on our Facebook Page in droves. Regardless of your views on the abolition of the trainee minimum wage it is important to explore the alternatives especially as people may be worrying about how to pay for the LPC.
If you would like to express your views please tweet us @DG_Academy. Alternatively if you would like to write for the academy please email Beth Nunnington at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed by DG Academy contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Duncan Gibbins Solicitors
All information is supplied in good faith but we accept no responsibility for any loss you may incur by following the advice here on these pages.
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