Although the idea of legal locums is relatively new in Canada, their use is well-established in Australia, Britain and the USA, as well as in other professions.
Locums may be hired as short-term employees or independent contractors, full-time or part-time, and may perform their work on-site or remotely. The terms of their engagement can vary significantly to reflect the parties’ needs and availability.
A locum may be brought in to oversee all facets of a lawyer’s practice while that lawyer is away or may be directed to particular files or projects.
They may be used to provide a lawyer with help during peak periods or backlogs, when hiring an associate for a full time position isn’t warranted or feasible.
They may assist on a big trial, do research or conduct document review, and the engagement ends when the project does.
Lawyers offering their services as locums may be recently admitted to the profession or experienced practitioners. They may seek the flexibility that a temporary engagement offers. Perhaps they are returning from a break in work themselves (e.g. maternity leave or in between jobs). As senior counsel with extensive experience, they may be using locum placements as a stepping stone to eventual retirement.
To respond to these needs, the Law Society of Alberta has established Locum Connect to provide a conduit for interested parties to connect with each other.