There is a huge demand across the UK for business solicitors able to provide ad hoc or ongoing advice to companies and firms from SMEs to large multi-national plcs. Although you can employ the services of a law firm to assist you, it has become common for companies to use solicitors as consultants and employ or contract with them directly. Most companies search online and find services such as Lawyers on Demand or Vario; services linked to large London law firms.
In House Lawyers
These solicitors are also known as in-house lawyers (an in house lawyer is a solicitor or barrister who provides advice to you as a consultant or employee of your business), freelance lawyers, company solicitors (providing advice on your structure and formation), commercial solicitors (advising on commercial contracts and agreements), litigation solicitors (advising on disputes or court cases), or simply interim lawyers in industry.
Salary Level Equivalents
Salary levels for these candidates on a permanent basis range from about £200,000 up to £350,000, depending on the size and sector of the company in question.
Eye Watering Hourly or Daily Rates
Hourly rates are something else. If you approach one of the large London law firms or their spin-offs for an interim lawyer or a solicitor to work on secondment to your company, then you are likely to find an hourly rate quoted that starts at about £250 and heads rapidly upwards. If you work this out on a daily basis this equates to around £1750 per day minimum and an annual fee of well over £350,000.
An Unnecessary Expense
This is totally unnecessary, and although quite a lot of big companies and institutions seem to think that the only option is to use the larger London law firms with their ultra high fee charging structures, there are alternatives available, as you would expect in the internet age.
Companies thinking about taking on an interim lawyer or an industry solicitor for their business should have a think about using an interim or locum solicitor. Locum solicitors are exactly the same as interim lawyers or solicitors on secondment or consultant lawyers or consultant solicitors; it is just a different way of describing them. Prices tend to range from about £40 per hour up to around the £90 per hour mark, the average for an in-house company commercial solicitor being approximately £55 per hour at the moment. This equates to a daily rate of about £385 per day assuming a 7 hour day, and an annual fee of less than 25% of the cost you are likely to see charged by a large number of law firms for the various consultant networks.
Not only that but the way the locum solicitors work is considerably more straightforward for most than the city law firms and consultant services. Locums simply invoice you on a weekly basis for any hours undertaken that have been agreed, and payment is usually made within 3 working days. Agency fees are just charged on a monthly basis for any hours undertaken. There are very few forms to sign, procedures to go through and locums are entirely flexible.
One of the key features of using a locum solicitor as an interim in-house lawyer is that at any time you find that they are no longer required, you simply tell them. No notice needed, and no conflicts procedures to go through to end the arrangement.
In terms of expertise, the locums tend to have exactly the same level of experience as the consultant solicitors being offered by the various new platforms, which invariably are linked to large solicitors firms which of course invariably means that their fees are astronomically high compared with other services. Quite a lot of the lawyers are exactly the same – they simply contract through different platforms.
The types of work covered by locums are exactly the same, and quite often the level of experience a locum has will be considerably higher than some of the consultants peddling their worth on the various on-demand services. This is because most locums are semi-retired, highly experienced solicitors, or solicitors who have taken up locuming as a profession and get exposed to a whole wide range of different types of work and law just because of the sheer diversity of the types of businesses they go and assist.
So next time you do have a need for increased capacity in your legal department in-house, or you need a solicitor to help with your in-house legal issues, have a think about using an interim lawyer/locum solicitor. One such service is the Interim Lawyers Platform – click www.interimlawyers.co.uk to have a look. Other services are of course available..
Jonathan Fagan is MD of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited and TP Recruitment Limited, a set of websites involved in a range of recruitment work. Jonathan has been running small businesses for over 20 years and has a number of interests and investments in companies as diverse as transcription, legal recruitment and a bit of marketing. He is an author of a number of guides and books, together with a children’s novel. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, cricket, coaching girls’ football, operating a parent taxi, lots of running and paddleboarding on Bala Lake and the River Dee. He is a strong believer in a good work-life balance and regular blogs on making money vs enjoying life. Jonathan’s website is https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk