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.
This handbook describes how Locum Connect works and offers advice.
How It Works
Benefits of Locum Arrangements
To view our locum listing, register as/for a locum or view resource material, click the buttons below.
How It Works
The Law Society operates Locum Connect as a free service for its members.
Who can serve as a locum?
Locums come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Any lawyer who is, or is eligible to be, an active, insured member of the Law Society of Alberta can ask to be added to Locum Connect.
Lawyers offering their services as locums may be recently admitted and either don’t want or can’t afford to establish an independent practice of their own just yet.
Perhaps the locum lawyer is returning from a break in work themselves and seeks the flexibility that a locum arrangement could provide while they continue to search for a full time position.
Perhaps they wish to live and work in other communities and experience different practice areas before entering into a long-term commitment.
Perhaps they are experienced practitioners wishing to slow down but not ready for full retirement.
Who can hire a locum through Locum Connect?
Any member of the Law Society of Alberta.
What role can locums serve?
The scope, length and nature of a locum engagement can vary.
It can extend to all facets of a lawyer’s practice while the lawyer is away on medical leave, maternity leave, sabbatical or simply taking a needed vacation. While the lawyer steps away, his practice and clients continue to be serviced promptly and professionally.
Engaging a locum may also be used to help during peak periods or backlogs when hiring an associate for a full time position isn’t warranted or feasible.
A locum may be brought in to assist on a big trial, do research or conduct document review, and the engagement ends when the project does.
It might be full-time or part-time and may be done on-site or remotely.
Are locums guaranteed to find a position? Are firms guaranteed to find a locum?
No. Use of Locum Connect does not guarantee a placement.
How long do names remain on Locum Connect?
To maintain the integrity and currency of the registry, locum postings are deleted after six months. Before that happens, notice of a pending deletion is automatically sent to the locum. Locums are free to renew their listing as many times as they wish.
If a locum wishes to be removed from Locum Connect at any time, they can be easily request that their entry be removed. As this is a manual removal process, the post will be removed within 48 business hours.
Benefits of Locum Arrangements
- Enhances the quality of lawyers’ practices and the services they provide to the public.
- Assists lawyers to maintain better work-life balance by allowing them to step away from their practice when needed or desired (disciplinary suspensions, medical leaves, maternity leaves, vacations, sabbaticals, attendance at conferences, other Continuing Legal Education events, etc.).
- Provides coverage during absences and temporary increases in workload.
- Allows law firms to evaluate potential new associates without requiring them to make a long-term commitment.
- Retains lawyers in the profession by allowing room for family, child rearing and community activities.
- Improves access to justice by allowing lawyers to work in alternative work arrangements (short-term, part-time, remote, task-based, etc.).
- Provides locum lawyers with opportunities to travel and experience different legal communities and practice styles.
- Lets locum lawyers see firsthand what works well and what to avoid. Helps them make better choices when it comes time to make decisions about setting up their own practices, deciding whether to join an existing practice or start their own, and where to live.
- Supports the needs of communities lacking access to legal counsel.
- Enables junior lawyers to earn a good income without committing to long term obligations such as the capital investment required to start a legal practice.
- Provides senior lawyers with an opportunity to remain engaged before moving to full retirement.