We have provided some hypothetical scenarios to illustrate different types of locum lawyer arrangement.
You are a sole practitioner lawyer in Kenosee with a general practice in corporate law, wills, estates and a few real estate files. You are expecting your second child and intend to take a six-month maternity leave. You have consulted the list of locum lawyers in your area on the Law Society’s website. Frank is the only locum lawyer listed for Kenosee. He is experienced in corporate, wills and estates work, but does not have any real estate law experience.
You’ve dealt with Frank on past transactions as opposing counsel and he seemed competent and personable. Frank tells you that he is winding down his practice and intends to pick up locum lawyer work as a way to supplement his income. You feel that he is a good “fit” and his references are solid. In addition, you’ve taken appropriate steps to deal with any potential conflicts of interest.
Frank will work from your office since you’ll have to carry your rent and overhead while you are away. You share office space with two other sole practitioners with whom you divide expenses for rent, one assistant and office equipment. Terrence practices family law and Janice practices real estate law. You have decided that Frank will refer all existing and new real estate clients to Janice because of her expertise and ability in real estate law matters. In return, Janice will pay you referral fees in accordance with Rule 3.6-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct, as applicable.
You are one of three partners in a busy criminal practice in Swift Current. There are no associates. Each partner has over five years of experience and the partners are known for their skill in this area. Your colleague, Chelsea, had a stroke three weeks ago. You and the remaining partner have been working extra hours to cover Chelsea’s files and you are both exhausted. At first, her prognosis was good and it appeared that she would be back to work within a month, as the stroke was considered minor. However, Chelsea’s health is not improving as quickly as expected.
All three partners agree that the firm needs to retain someone to fill in until Chelsea is able to return to work. You check the locum lawyers registry on the Law Society’s website and there are several locum lawyers in the area with practises in Criminal Law but only one who is available immediately. Chandler is a lawyer with three years’ post-call experience at a firm that does mostly small claims court matters. After interviewing Chandler, checking his references and satisfying yourselves that Chandler is right for your firm, you decide you will reallocate the files to ensure that Chandler does not have to handle anything beyond his level of skill and competence. Chandler understands that the initial term of two months may be extended. Chandler has agreed to work five days per week using Chelsea’s office and computer.
You recently left a mid-size firm, where you handled personal injury files for six years, to start your own civil litigation practice in Regina. You have decided to offer your legal services as a locum lawyer to supplement your income. You are contacted by Alexandra, a veteran civil litigator with a civil litigation/personal injury practice in Moose Jaw. She is a sole practitioner without staff. You have the time to spare right now and you could use the extra work.
Alexandra explains that she hasn’t taken a real vacation since opening her practice in 1994 and she is burned out. She explains that the timing is right for her to take a break, as she does not have any upcoming court appearances or urgent matters to deal with in the next three weeks.
Alexandra wants you to come into her office three days a week for three weeks to move several files along. In addition, she would like you to check her e-mail, faxes (which arrive via e-mail) and telephone messages once a day, Monday to Friday, for the three-week period. On the two days of the week you are not in her office, you will check messages remotely. In the event of an emergency, Alexandra would like you to contact her on vacation.