Demand for interim or contracting solicitors and lawyers (locum legal professionals) is on the rise in the current candidate-driven market across all industries and sectors. Due to this spike in demand, many legal professionals are seeing the perks of becoming a locum.
Here we discuss the six key ways becoming a locum can benefit you.
Better work-life balance
The legal profession is notorious for its long working hours, but recently we are seeing huge shifts in hiring trends for legal professionals.
Locuming by nature allows for a more flexible and enjoyable lifestyle. Employees can negotiate their working hours, shifting their work life to suit their needs.
Locum work is particularly suited to more senior professionals as well as for people taking a career break to start a family, or leaving to care for relatives or pursue another interest for a period of time.
Leighann Ellis, Interim Legal Consultant at Robert Walters comments, “Many professionals are adapting their work to fit the lifestyle they want, causing a noticeable shift in the bargaining power employees have when looking for a new role.”
As legal professionals’ expectations are changing, hiring managers are adapting to meet these new candidate values. More professionals are showing an interest in locum experience so more hiring managers are seeing the value of offering this opportunity to secure the best professionals.
Leighann highlights that “The one big disadvantage to this is the work could stop at any point, but this is the risk locums have to take.”
“You could be out of work for months before finding your next contract, but this is an element of contracting very suited to those either looking to travel for several months at a time or professionals who are semi-retired."
Being a locum provides a newly qualified lawyer or solicitor the opportunity to explore different environments and experiences
Strengthen your professional branding
Many professionals are leaving their employment to become a temporary solicitor or lawyer, providing small pools of highly experienced and skilled legal professionals to help fill short-term project requirements
or high seasonal leave and absences.
With years of experience under their belt, locum solicitors and lawyers bring with them a wealth of knowledge from various industries they have worked across. This experience and knowledge helps builds your personal credibility and strengthen your reputation within the market, making you a very desirable and in-demand employee as firms continue to realise the value and quality of locums.
Gain valuable experience
Although locuming is particularly good for those with more experience, it’s also beneficial for newly qualified lawyers. Starting off a career in law can be tough, so a great way to get experience is considering contracting work. Assisting permanent employees to fill gaps and complete daily tasks can be a great way to help build your CV and experience within a legal setting.
“Being a locum provides a newly qualified lawyer or solicitor the opportunity to explore different environments and experiences at this stage of their career.”
“There is no pressure to commit to a permanent role, and allows you to identify what direction you want to pursue. The tasks may be tedious but its great way to get your foot in the door and become better known in the industry.” Leighann comments.
A huge pull factor for many legal professionals considering contracting work is the financial gain received when becoming a locum. This financial pull is weighted more towards those with several years of experience and who hold a strong name in the market and subsequently can negotiate higher hourly rates.
“The attractive salary rate however isn’t the biggest pull factor for many. Those lawyers that I have helped transition into locuming have boasted about the broad and diverse client base they work with and the various good (and the bad) office experiences they have experienced, the financial increase is just another reason why so many have made the transition, and wouldn’t look back.” Says Leighann.
Increased variety and diversity
Typically, a locum professional works on a short-term basis ranging from a couple of days, to hours or even sometimes years, this varies from one contract to the next. As a locum, you are exposed to a broad range of different projects and cases, one day is never the same as the next.
This diversity and variation can be a very enticing and rewarding factor and is another reason so many professionals consider locuming towards the end of their career. Locums are often given the responsibility to pick up work and run with it, and can be working on multiple projects at one time.
No training required
One of the key reasons why so many law firms are considering hiring more locums is because working with short-term contracting employees means there is no sign-off required from HR and more senior levels.
“No training is required for contracting staff. As a locum, you would usually come with years of experience and knowledge and are often seen as an expert within your field…so can start work from day one. This means you can skip the usual company induction and start adding value to a company immediately, while working on projects you are interested in.”
Contracting is a great opportunity for an experienced senior legal professional, but also brings value for a newly qualified professional. Whether it be improving work-life balance, adding variety to your role, or strengthening your name in the market there are many benefits to moving into a locum role. The changing legal market is opening more and more opportunities for legal professionals, and subsequently expanding the pool of interim legal professionals.