Legal aid barrister, 27, who went to state school and put herself through university reveals she now earns LESS than minimum wage for working 19-hour days
- Alejandra Llorente Tascon, 27, from London, is a criminal defence barrister
- After expenses says earns less than national minimum wage of £8.72 per hour
- Says lawyers are ‘turning their backs’ on legally aided bar for financial reward
A criminal barrister claims she is earning less than the National Living Wage despite working 19 hour days.
Alejandra Llorente Tascon, 27, of London, is a defence barrister for the legally aided bar, providing assistance to those unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system.
She told how she put herself through university with ‘no financial backing’ from her mother, who works as a cleaner, and is still paying off her university loan.
In an interview with BBC News, she told how, unlike many affluent barristers, after expenses and with no payment for her preparation work or conferences, she is making less than the National Living Wage of £8.72 an hour.
Alejandra Llorente Tascon (pictured), 27, London, is a defence barrister for the legally aided bar, providing assistance to those unable to afford legal representation
‘My working day yesterday was a total of 19 hours and that’s pretty typical, and those long hours start to get to you,’ she said.
With defence barristers paid £91-£126 per standard hearing, Alejandra told the BBC that with expenses, she makes less than the minimum wage.
‘We don’t get paid for any of our preparation work, our conferences, our travel,’ she said.
In October, the Bar Council claimed that some publicly funded barristers were earning less than £13,000 per year pre-tax, working out at £6.25 per hour for a 40-hour week.
Unlike many affluent barristers, Alejandra put herself through university with ‘no financial backing’ from her mother, who works as a cleaner (pictured together)
Alejandra was educated in state schools and is still paying back her university loan after funding her university course with no extra financial help
What is the National Living Wage?
The National Living Wage (NLW) was introduced in the 2015 Summer Budget by then-Tory Chancellor George Osborne, and became law on April 1 the following year.
The NLW was simply a renaming of the NMW and not completely linked to the cost of living. The NLW is currently set at the same level as the NMW; it means anyone over the age of 25, and not in the first year of an apprenticeship, has to be paid £8.72 per hour or above.
In a paper submitted to the Treasury ahead of their spending review, the council claimed the lack of pay was putting the future of the legally aided bar at risk, and will have ‘a disproportionate impact on diversity in the profession’.
Alejandra warned that lawyers are ‘turning their back’ on the legally aided bar and choosing more financially rewarding options instead.
‘It makes me very angry and I know that that is the general consensus across the criminal bar,’ she said.
‘I know many people are choosing other areas that are more financially rewarding and they’re choosing to completely turn their back on the legally aided bar.
Alejandra was educated in state schools and is still paying back her university loan after funding her university course with no extra financial help.
‘I’ve never had any financial backing from my family… because my mum is a single parent, she works as a cleaner,’ she said.
‘So I had to take a loan to pay for the course myself; I’m still paying back for that loan.’
When asked whether she regrets her career choice, she added: ‘I don’t because I love my job and I love what I do and its what I’ve always wanted to do.’
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