Whether referred to as locum, interim, or contracting, temporary recruitment solutions account for a substantial part of the UK workforce. The legal market is no different, with temporary Solicitors, Barristers, Paralegals and Legal Executives providing essential cover for periods of holiday, maternity leave, sickness cover and project work. In the current candidate-driven permanent market, temporary workers are also proving critical in maintaining levels of client care when gaps arise due to notice periods expiring before new permanent staff can be recruited.
It is therefore no surprise that it is an increasingly viable career choice to become a ‘Career Locum’, particularly with the flexibility this method of working can afford. There are several important factors to consider when making the decision to work as an interim, and giving these matters due consideration in the early part of your decision making process can make for a much smoother and more successful transition.
• Be financially prepared
Whilst life as an interim can without doubt be highly lucrative, there is also no guarantee of consistency of income. Assignments can terminate earlier than planned, hours could decrease or the rates of pay available could vary. Most commonly, you will need to plan for gaps between assignments as it can be tricky to line up a new role to commence immediately after one concludes. Many career locums I speak with advise having enough money saved away to last you for at least 6 months to account for this.
• Obtain professional financial advice
There are many options for payment as a temporary worker and it is key that you find out which method suits your own circumstances. This is also a highly regulated area and so getting the right advice will ensure you remain compliant in your practices. You could in theory work on a PAYE basis, via a limited company or as a sole trader, and each method has benefits and drawbacks. A good recruitment consultant will need to know your preferred route of payment from the outset of the process as this will affect the advice we give you on rates of pay, whether you might need your own insurance cover, and sometimes whether or not we are able to consider you for an a particular assignment.
• Be realistic about your parameters
Give some thought to where you are willing to work, for how long and what you will need to be earning to make each situation viable. If staying away from home during the week is an option then this will open up a much wider range of opportunities for you, however make sure you have discussed this with any relevant family members, considered travel times/expenses and have arrangements in place to allow you to act upon this quickly if required. Have a clear idea of what is, and is not, feasible for you and ensure you relay this fully to your consultant.
• Be committed
Although locum work is generally about flexibility, there is also an expectation that if you commit to an assignment then you are expected to stick with it. A ‘revolving door’ of temporary workers is a client’s worst nightmare and gives not only a poor impression of the locum profession overall, but can result in you gaining an unfavourable reputation personally if this becomes a regular occurrence. eNL, like any reputable agency, will need to take up references from previous assignments, and therefore it soon comes to light if there have been any such issues. The legal market is a very small and interconnected world – as a legal locum your reputation is your most valuable sales tool.
For further advice or a general discussion about life as a Locum Lawyer please contact a member of the eNL locum division on 0207 183 8586.