The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has apologised for releasing information that made it appear as if there had been a massive rise in training places last year – when in fact the number has stayed static.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request about trainee solicitor numbers from a legal recruitment company, the SRA said that “5,541 training contracts were registered in 2014, and 3,415 periods of recognised training entered into”.
The recruiters subsequently issued a press release about trainee numbers exploding, which was picked up by some media.
However, yesterday the SRA acknowledged that the information it released “has led to some confusion”.
It said: “Our response should have made it clear that the number of training contracts registered included the periods of recognised training – in other words, the figure of 5,541 represented the total number of trainees taken on in 2014.”
The SRA removed the need for training contracts to be registered from 1 July 2014. Any trainee taken on by a firm from that point onwards is from a regulatory point of view in a ‘period of recognised training’. The figure for 2014 is the number of training contracts registered up to that date, and the periods of recognised training notified thereafter.
The figure of 5,541 – which has subsequently been adjusted to 5,514 in light of delayed notifications since received – compares to 5,512 in 2013 and 5,290 in 2012.
SRA executive director Richard Collins said: “We are sorry for any confusion this has caused. We have spoken directly to the [recruitment] company about this to explain, apologise and correct the position. We are also taking this step to correct the position publicly and we hope this clarifies the matter.”
Legal Futures looked into the story when released by the recruitment company but did not run the story because of queries that it raised that have only now been clarified by the SRA.