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As the world becomes more complex and interconnected, the need for specialised legal services has become increasingly important. This has led to an increase in demand for legal expertise.
While there are currently over 160,600 practising solicitors across England and Wales, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), there has also been an increase in the need for temporary or part-time legal professionals to fill in gaps or provide specialised services. As such, many of these law professionals are now opting for locum solicitor positions.
While there are similarities between the work of an in-house solicitor and a locum solicitor, there are also drastic differences. Some of the most prominent ones are the work logistics, payment terms, and payment methods. As such, below is a guide on how to get paid as a locum solicitor.
Know How Much to Charge as a Locum Solicitor
When determining your rates, there are several factors that you should take into consideration. One of the most common things to know about being a locum solicitor is how different in nature it is from charging as an in-house solicitor. When it comes to charging your clients, you are not paid an hourly salary but typically on a daily or hourly basis, which is why it is important to be extremely diligent when it comes to negotiating your pay.
In order to know how much you should charge, you need to consider your worth. Start by assessing your level of experience and expertise. If you are a seasoned solicitor with a proven track record of success and a deep understanding of a particular area of law, you may be able to justify charging a higher rate. The complexity of legal work also plays a significant role in determining your rates, as more challenging legal work commands higher fees. In addition, take into consideration logistical aspects such as when and where you will be working, the flexibility of your hours, whether secretariat support is available, and many others.
Establish Clear Conditions
It is important to outline the scope of your services and the specific legal matters that you will be handling for the client. This may include details such as the duration of your engagement, the nature of the legal work to be performed, and any specific responsibilities or obligations that the client must fulfil in order to facilitate the legal process.
Additionally, it is crucial to clearly define the financial terms of your engagement, including your fee structure, billing procedures, and payment terms. Setting out these terms and conditions from the onset can help to avoid any potential misunderstandings, conflicts, or disputes down the line. It also helps to create transparency and trust between you and your clients, ultimately leading to a more positive and successful working relationship.
Draft a Written Agreement
Once the terms and conditions have been agreed upon, it is essential to put them in writing in the form of a written agreement or contract. This document should clearly outline the agreed-upon payment terms, including the method of payment, the due date for invoices, and any penalties for late payments. Should there be a disagreement between the solicitor and the client regarding the services provided, the fees charged, or any other aspect of the relationship, the written agreement serves as a reference point for resolving the issue.
This written agreement is also important to help manage the client’s expectations. By clearly outlining all of the relevant details, the client is less likely to have unrealistic expectations or be caught off guard by unexpected issues that may arise during the course of the representation.
Issue a Detailed Invoice
Issuing detailed and accurate invoices is important for maintaining good financial records and managing your practice effectively. By keeping meticulous records of the services provided and the fees charged, you can ensure that your invoicing and accounting practices are in order. This can help you track your income, manage your expenses, and stay on top of your financial responsibilities as a legal professional.
This is also important for demonstrating transparency and compliance with legal and ethical standards. For instance, having well-documented finances can aid your credit history and ultimately your credit score. As a solicitor, you are held to a high standard of professional conduct, and it is important to adhere to the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors by upholding the principles of honesty and integrity in your business practices.