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In House Legal Recruitment Consultants

Interim Lawyers from £25 per hour – how is it possible?

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We have specialised in In House Interim Legal Roles for almost 18 years. Rates for Interim In House Lawyers start from just £25 per hour, although they do rise rapidly (see below). For in-house roles the interim or locum role fall into three categories:

  1. In House Legal Department looking for a solicitor to help with a specific case. Usually this relates to High Court litigation work.
  2. Maternity Cover or Long Term Sickness Assistance – tends to be for General Corporate Counsel roles.
  3. Interim Lawyer to assist on an ongoing ad hoc basis as the company are looking to save significant sums on using external solicitors firms for fairly straightforward work.

The most in-demand in-house locums are those who have general experience in both private practice and in-house roles. The reason for this is because in-house counsel tend to cover a very wide range of work across the board, but in a specific role are likely to just do certain tasks. However, there are a large number of commercial lawyers out there who have had very specific experience in a specific sector during their career, and quite possibly have no experience at all in another sector. In-house legal departments tend to want someone who can pick up a file and run with it, and not someone who may be in the Legal 500 for their experience in aviation finance  but doesn’t have a clue about dealing with an employment law matter.

What information do you need from us?

If you are thinking about recruiting an in-house interim lawyer but are not a solicitor yourself then make sure you get full specifics off a lawyer in your in-house legal department and don’t just rely on the generic job specification the department has put together at some stage. You can guarantee they will be looking for something completely different! It is surprising how many times we get given an in-house role to work with a full job spec, but when we get round to actually recruiting the locum, discover that the role is the opposite to the job as shown on the specification sent across. Very often in-house solicitors tend to define their own work and deal with matters as they crop up, and this can be very different to the specification they have been given when starting the post some years before. PQE tends not to be relevant for interim or locum roles – specific experience to date counts for more.

If you are a solicitor looking to recruit an in-house locum to cover you or one of your colleagues, then similarly think very carefully about exactly what it is you are going to expect the locum to be able to do. We often get solicitors requesting the services of in-house locums, sending us across a very detailed spec, but then balk at the cost of recruiting a locum to cover the work they have requested because of the level of expertise they have asked for. This does work both ways because we also see in-house legal departments looking to take on paralegals or legal executives to cover the work, whereas when we read the job specification it is pretty clear there won’t be any junior staff able to undertake the work the department has requested.

The key thing to look for when recruiting in-house, interim or locum solicitors is the actual level of expertise you require, rather than the ideal work you would like someone to do. Do not get confused between the terms locum and interim as they mean the same when it comes to lawyers and solicitors, similarly do not get confused between the terms interim in-house legal counsel and interim in-house solicitor or barrister. They are pretty much all the same. Contact us for friendly and immediate help!

There is no point trying to recruit an interim lawyer for an in house locum assignment – they cost a fortune

One of the most common misconceptions that companies have about hiring interim (ie short term or fixed term contract) lawyers is that they are expensive. You can go online and see the prices quoted by the various providers of interim solicitors and barristers for ad hoc ‘on demand’, in house projects or maternity leave cover. They usually start at about £125 per hour and upwards.

Why are quoted hourly rates so high for In House Interim Lawyers?

Very often it is because the hourly rates are being quoted to you by divisions of huge regional law firms, who charge hourly rates of £500 and upwards. As a result they see £125 per hour and upwards as being very reasonable!

Is there an alternative?

Yes definitely. There are interim and contract lawyers out there available to assist you at a fraction of the prices quoted by the large providers of project and interim lawyers. Providing the work is for your business, ie the lawyers will not be advising individuals or being named in litigation as acting on your behalf, hourly rates can start as low as £30 per hour. The average tends to be about £40-50 per hour.

How can this be possible?

Mainly because the larger providers online live inside the commercial bubble of the City of London and view £125 per hour and upwards as being cheap, whereas in reality it isn’t! Whilst it may well be reasonable for the provision of a solicitor working within a law firm with considerable overheads – professional indemnity insurance, staff costs, office costs, etc. – it is definitely not reasonable for the provision of services by a solicitor working remotely or on site at your offices. £125 per hour represents an annual salary of about £225,000 per annum. Most solicitors in the UK do not earn that in 2-3 years!

Yes but surely the advice will be substandard

No, not at all. The solicitors providing services at lower hourly rates are those who have recognised that in house legal departments do not expect to spend significant sums on legal advice where it is not actually necessary to do so. Even £45 per hour equates to an annual salary of £81,000 and this is about the level a good number of in house legal counsel receive themselves.

Who are the most in demand In House Locum Lawyers?

The most in-demand in-house locums are those who have got general experience in both private practice and in-house roles. The reason for this is because in-house counsel tend to cover a very wide range of work across the board, but in a specific role are likely to just do certain tasks. There are a large number of commercial lawyers out there who have had very specific experience in a specialist sector during their career, but quite possibly have no experience at all in another sector. In-house legal departments tend to want someone who can pick up a file and run with it, and not someone who may be in the legal 500 for their experience in aviation finance but wouldn’t have a clue dealing with an employment file.

How do I get more information?

Email us at jobs@jonathanfagan.co.uk or call 0800 246 5001.

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