in Careers Advice, Legal Profession

What is a Locum Solicitor?

A locum solicitor is a lawyer who works on a short term basis only – sometimes for a few hours, and other times for a few years – to cover for absent members of staff.

Commonly used in local authorities, where staff always seem to require more cover than in private practice (I would imagine this has something to do with the almost impossible working conditions at times, the state of the management in some local authorities, but also the fact that government employers do tend to be slightly better at covering for absent staff than private practice, where at times fee earners can come back to find their desks smothered in paperwork!). Similarly local authority HR departments appear to have got a little lazy in recent times, splashing out rather large sums on third party processors, who process the admin required, set the locum rates, cream off a cut and then control which recruiters are allowed to supply a particular local authority or group of local authorities.

Often a locum solicitor will be self employed, and contract directly with a firm for their services. They will charge a daily or weekly rate for their work. Locums can range from NQ level solicitors up to 45 years PQE +. It usually suits people looking for some flexibility – eg sportsmen and women, or semi-retired practitioners.

A locum will usually be expected to pick up a caseload and run with it, sorting out anything urgent for anything not requiring work on it, and very often they are left to their own devices to get on with it.

The main disadvantage with the set up is that you can find yourself without work for 4 months out of every 12, which is the rule of thumb that most locums work to.

Pay can be varied, ranging from anything around £120 per day for an NQ dealing at a junior level, up to £800 for someone very senior on the commercial side.

Umbrella companies started to become all the rage in recent times, but this has now died off a little bit as tax law changed and made it harder for them to operate. Umbrella companies handle all the administration and save you tax when working as a locum.

Interim Lawyers is our specialist legal locum service for Solicitors. You can visit the site, register as a locum, register locum assignments, view locum rates of pay and download our free guide on working effectively as a locum solicitor.

List of FAQs (with links to the Interim Lawyer site)

Locum FAQs

Employers FAQs

Author: Jonathan Fagan MIRP MAC Cert RP LLM Solicitor (non-practising) – Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment ( – save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! Jonathan Fagan is a specialist legal recruitment consultant, author of the Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV and the Guide to Interviews for Lawyers. He has recruited for law firms across the UK and overseas in all shapes and sizes. If you have any questions that we have not covered above, please email us at

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at