Tips for Hiring a Locum Lawyer
Treat the process of hiring a locum lawyer as you would if you were hiring a new permanent staff member.
- If possible, start the process of hiring a locum lawyer well before you need someone to cover for you. Allow yourself sufficient time to find the appropriate locum lawyer for your practice.
- Be clear about what you want the locum lawyer to do in your absence. Will the lawyer be handling administrative work as well as your legal work? What are the key files and deadlines you need to brief him or her about? Clearly identify and explain the work required. Detailed memos on each file are necessary.
- Request a résumé and interview candidates to determine whether or not the locum lawyer has the requisite skills for the job and whether or not he or she is a "fit" for your clients and office. It is the locum lawyer's responsibility to ensure that he or she is competent to handle any legal work you have agreed to assign. At the same time, you should satisfy yourself that the locum lawyer has the requisite skill and knowledge to deal with your files. Accordingly, you will want to ask the locum lawyer detailed questions about his or her previous work experience in the areas of practice required. If you have staff, observe how the locum lawyer interacts with your employees. Do not be afraid to ask the locum lawyer how he or she has handled difficult clients or conflict situations in the past. Remember that your questions must comply with The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code .
- Ask the locum lawyer for references and for permission to check them. In addition to past employers, you may wish to ask to speak with opposing counsel with whom the locum lawyer has previously worked. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions, including "Would you retain/work with this person again?"
As the contracting firm/lawyer, it is your responsibility to satisfy yourself that the locum lawyer is right for you. You can check the current status of the lawyer on the Law Society's Find a Lawyer Directory. In the interest of the public, the directory includes the current status of the lawyer, such as whether his or her licence is suspended, whether there are restrictions on the practice, or whether he or she has a discipline history. If a potential locum lawyer does not appear in the Find a Lawyer Directory, he or she is not currently a Member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan. You can also check Pending Discipline Matters, which lists information about upcoming hearings.