What rate should I charge for corporate commercial lawyer locum or consultancy work?

The same query applies to high street lawyers who occasionally get this rate confused as well.

Locum Hourly Rates are not Client Billing Rates

Your locum hourly rate is not your client billing rate. We sometimes get locums registering with us who indicate their hourly rate as being £300 per hour, when similar locums and consultants are charging £55 per hour..

Sometimes we are immediately able to clarify figures with locums, but at other times the lawyers stick to the rates. We never find work at these sorts of levels, but we always respect an individual locum’s requirements!

Calculation of Hourly Rates

If you are working on a £300 an hour basis, you would get £2,100 per day (assuming a seven hour day), £10,500 per week (assuming a five day week and 35 hours in total) and £546,000 per year on a full-time annual basis.

This of course would be fantastic and I can imagine a lot of lawyers would love to be earning that sort of money doing consultancy and locum work!

Unfortunately, this is nowhere near the sort of hourly rates you can expect if you’re working for private practice or in-house.

In House and Corporate Commercial Private Practice Locum Rates

In-house rates tend to be lower traditionally because they are more used to paying a salary equivalent for any locuming work being undertaken. So for most corporate and commercial roles working in-house you’re probably looking at a maximum of about £70 per hour. So a typical day rate for a very senior competent experienced corporate commercial solicitor with a history of completed assignments and good quality references is probably around the £450 to £500 mark per day. This is very much top end and we do have a number of consultants who work with us from time to time who will attract these types of fees and slightly higher.


However, these consultants will be prepared to drop their rates in order to get certain types of work coming through the door. So even when the headline figure may well be £500 a day, they will probably accept £350 per day if they can see an advantage in taking a role.

For example, there may be a company with an ongoing assignment for three hours a day or one day per week. in this situation the consultant may well charge out at their highest level and aim for a day rate at £500.

However, if another company had an ongoing locum assignment covering maternity for nine months and working full time (or at least as many hours as the consultant could manage to fit round other commitments), then the consultant is likely to drop to around £350 per day simply because it’s ongoing paid work and they’re not going to have to scrape around for other consultancy work during that time.

Gig Economy

This makes a lot of sense because one of the difficulties with doing locum work is that you never know where your next gig is going to come from – welcome to the gig economy! Sometimes corporate and commercial locum lawyers will go for three, four or even five months without any work at certain times of the year or at certain times in economic cycle. So it is important to make hay whilst you can and not continually turn down assignments in order to hold out for higher levels that may never arise.

Our Experience

Our experience from 20 plus years of dealing with locum work is that locum lawyers who have a very stubborn streak when it comes to hourly rates, and who stick rigidly to one specific level will often find that at certain times of the year or certain times in the economic cycle their work completely dries up and they don’t get any. They then spend hours phoning around agencies, including us, chasing us up to find if there’s any work or to try and push for us to do more to find them work, which of course is something we’re very reluctant to do if we know no one is going to pay their sorts of rates unless they’re desperate.

Our Advice

So our advice in relation to hourly rates is not to have any one particular rate and stick to it. Never wait to speak to a recruitment consultant first before setting a rate because in the meantime three other locums may well have come to the same role and you will have missed out, but have a think about what the assignment is and then set your rate accordingly.

If you are going for an ad hoc role for one day a week for six hours a day, then you can afford to go high, simply because if you don’t get the work it doesn’t matter particularly. However, if you are going for a maternity cover that’s going to last six months and you don’t want to miss out, then you need to take a pragmatic approach to your rates right at the start to perhaps think that if your normal hourly rate that you have in mind is £70 an hour, you might need to pitch at £55 an hour in order to get the work.

It’s always a question of supply and demand and at certain times in the economic cycle there is lots of availability and interest from locums for specific jobs and at other times there are no locums looking, which then means of course there is plenty of opportunity to hike your rates.

Supply and Demand

An example of this was in 2022 when property law firms were struggling to find anybody at all to do any locum work because there was such a shortage of cover. As a result locums started to set their own rates and we were seeing unqualified residential conveyancing locums going for £45 an hour when normally these same conveyancers would be pitching around the £30 to £32 per hour. In 2023, and a very different economy, there are now lots of locum still trying to get work at £40 to £45 an hour and failing because the market has completely changed and the current rate is somewhere around the £30 to £35 per hour.

Lawyers Hourly Rates Guide

For details of our experiences of hourly rates and our hourly rate guide please visit our website for the Interim Lawyers monthly updates. We have a full guide that we publish every month outlining our experiences in the previous month of hourly rates and also what we are hearing out in the market. We don’t necessarily just go on the rates that we see ourselves but also on the rates that we hear about from partners of law firms we are involved with buying & selling (we also have a business brokerage department) and also our conversations with locums and solicitors.


Keep an open mind. This is a very competitive market at the best of times, so it is important if you are going to start working on a long-term basis as a locum you keep an open mind as to what hourly rate you are prepared to work for.

Finally, if you are just starting out as a locum it is really important to put the hourly rate second and think about getting the work first. Any locum or consultancy work on a CV makes a complete difference to your chances of success going forwards because potential firms looking to use your services can see that you have had experience of the type of role before. Any questions? Please feel free to contact us as we are always happy to assist if we can.