When a law firm use our services to procure a locum solicitor, we charge an introduction fee, which is calculated as a percentage of monies paid to the locum during their time working with your business.
Margins of between about 15% and 35% are regularly charged by locum agencies. Not all agencies make their margin clear because they employ the locums themselves and hence the hourly rate the law firm are paying is not necessarily anything near to the rate the agency are paying the locum. Our system is transparent for both the locum and the law firm in that both know exactly what each is getting and paying.
The question that quite often arises is how long this fee is applicable for, and we know this has been subject to court proceedings in the past via other companies because we have been approached to comment on it and advise on our own experience.
The answer is fairly simple – you pay in accordance with the agency terms. We cannot comment on other agency terms but our interimlawyers.co.uk terms are quite specific in that as long as you use the services of the locum solicitor in any capacity, whether self employed, employed, via a limited company, via another solicitors firm, whether you introduce the locum to another solicitors firm, ask the locum to work for a third party, it makes no difference at all. Our locum fee applies and carries on ad infinitum.
But how can a locum contract where you have introduced a candidate in 2015 for an assignment still be applicable in 2020? Surely it is inequitable and you should be removed from the equation after a certain period of time?
Yes and absolutely. This is quite often the case; especially when we deal with solicitors’ firms with more than a modicum of sense.
It is customary for any solicitors firm with a bit of commercial common sense to contact us after 12 months and ask us to agree a fee to remove ourselves from the equation so that the law firm does not end up paying us vast amounts of fees over a lengthy period of time. In fact our terms encourage it. Our terms refer to the provision of a fixed fee or a one off fee to cover the introduction and taking us completely out of the equation at any time the locum is with the firm.
Fairly reasonable? We like to think so – our one-off fee can be very cost-effective.
Unfortunately we have found over the years that certain law firms simply don’t bother contacting us to negotiate a deal to remove us from the equation, and instead try all sorts of shenanigans to avoid the fee, whether by claiming that the solicitor is no longer working for them (because he/she has changed the name of a limited company invoicing the firm), the solicitor has gone on to employed terms so the locum terms no longer apply (they do), etc.. etc.. – the list goes on.
Furthermore, some firms have got the locum to negotiate with us – they threaten the locum with a reduction in their hourly rates to pay for our fees.
All completely avoidable. If you have a locum on a long term assignment contact the agency concerned and attempt to negotiate a deal. In the vast majority of circumstances most agents would be delighted to do this, as it reduces the administrative headache of getting invoices every month off the locum or the firm to produce a fee, and also introduces a welcome one off payment into the agency’s bank account.
Do not under any circumstances just keep paying, because this is a commercial arrangement between two businesses and agencies are more than happy (including ourselves) to keep taking your money.
You may feel this last point is inequitable, unjust, immoral or unfair. We have certainly had letters from indignant law firms who have failed to contact us to end our involvement, claiming that this is the case. Do we feel bad taking a law firm’s money when the law firm haven’t bothered to get in touch with us? No of course not.
The law firm have had the service of the locum and they need to pay for it. In over 75% of locum assignments the length of time is less than 2 weeks, even when clients have promised 6 months or 12 month assignments. In most cases the assignment is extremely short, simply because this is the nature of locum work. So when an assignment carries on for a bit longer than expected, as agents we are naturally delighted, both because the law firm are pleased with the service the locum is providing them with, introduced by us, and also because it makes the whole venture profitable for us.
The work involved in arranging a 2 week assignment is very often similar to the work involved in arranging a 12 month assignment, but quite often we find ourselves working at a loss to arrange the 2 week assignments, and it is offset by the occasional 12 month assignment we pick up.
Similarly, we are delighted when firms get in touch with us to negotiate fixed fee arrangements because it works well for them and it also works well for us.
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