Acting As a Locum
As locum you are standing in for another lawyer to cover or run the other lawyer’s law practice while away. In this replacement capacity you are considered a member of the firm that has hired you (the contracting firm) and should expect to be viewed as such by clients and others. Insurance requirements, options, and coverages all need to be considered in this light.
If you are acting as locum
You are responsible for ensuring that you have E&O insurance with appropriate coverage options that reflects your locum work, as well as work you may be doing in your own law practice.
Some issues to consider:
1. Your current insurance coverage and options
- Do your practice and coverage still apply? If you opted for the Restricted Area of Practice option but your locum work is not confined to only criminal and/or immigration law, you no longer qualify for this practice option.
- If you qualified for the Part-time Practice option, but will now be working full-time (whether as a locum for a single lawyer, or for more than one lawyer, in addition to your own law practice), you need to have this coverage option removed before practising on a full-time basis.
- If your locum work includes real estate law, you need to apply for and be granted the Real Estate Practice Coverage Option.
2. The need for Innocent Party Coverage
If you are standing in for a lawyer in an association, partnership or law corporation with more than one lawyer, you must carry at least $250,000 per claim/aggregate of Innocent Party sub-limit protection. This is required even if you are otherwise a sole practitioner. If other lawyers in the firm have bought up their Innocent Party protection, you must carry at least that same amount of increased Innocent Party.
If a claim does arise in relation to locum work, it is the locum’s policy coverage that would respond.
3. The need for Excess Coverage
LAWPRO’s optional Excess program automatically extends coverage to locums and locum work under the Excess policy issued to the contracting firm. But not all excess insurers may do so.
Firms purchasing excess insurance from other insurers are strongly encouraged to obtain written confirmation from their excess insurer that the locum and contracting firm are both insureds under any excess policy issued, and that coverage is fully afforded in relation to locum work.
If you are the contracting firm hiring a locum
In the eyes of the client and others, the locum will be seen as acting as a member of the contracting firm. It is important that the contracting firm ensures that the locum maintains program protection and coverage options that are consistent with both the locum work and the coverage of the firm’s other lawyers.
Firm lawyers should keep the following in mind:
- limits for a claim made against the locum will not be increased by virtue of the program coverage maintained by other lawyers in the contracting firm;
- partners in the firm could find themselves responsible for paying the locum’s deductible;
- no protection is available with respect of allegations of damage to the goodwill and reputation of the firm; and
- the aggregate limit protection provided to locums could also be eroded by claims that are not related to locum work.
For further reading see Practice Locums: E&O options to consider