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Maintaining a successful career as a legal locum can be challenging if not managed correctly, however the rewards are great. High salaries, a better work/life balance and the ability to learn new skills and progress quickly are just a few of the benefits successful legal locums can enjoy. As a recruiter that speaks to legal locums every day we know what it takes. As a result we have put together these top tips on how you can survive as a legal locum and how you can ensure you always secure the best assignments for you.
Increasingly, legal professionals are seeing the benefits of locuming at some point in their career. It is traditionally a decision based on personal circumstances but, as the legal locum market continues to grow, it is a consideration more people are making in order to achieve the work/life balance they desire.
Here is our advice on surviving as a legal locum.
Keep your CV as detailed as possible
This may sound obvious, however we deal with legal locums on a daily basis and many of them come to us with CVs that are not detailed enough and do not showcase their skills and ability. No matter how long you have been locuming for, it is essential that you include all of your experience. Remember to include things like the values of matter you oversee, the size of caseloads you have worked on and whether or not you had support in the role.
If you have been locuming for some time and have a wealth of experience that will likely make your CV too long you might want to group your locum positions together, detailing key organisations and activities as a summary. This will give the potential employer a good understanding of where you have worked, will ensure there are no obvious gaps in your CV and will also give them a deeper understanding of your experience and skillset as a whole.
If you would like some help writing your legal locum CV feel free to get in touch with a member of our team, or check out our CV writing guidelines here.
Be open and available to work away from home
Locums are required all over the UK and sometimes the positions that are most suited to you and your skillset may be away from home. This is not an unusual situation, but it is important to be prepared. If you are able to work from home we can work with you and the employer to negotiate a rate that means you are not out of pocket.
Do your research
All legal locums should thoroughly research the company they are going to work for. Look at their website and social media platforms and get a good feel for who they are and what they do. Doing your research is a great opportunity to learn about the people you are going to be working with and prepare you for the type of legal work they undertake.
Remember, your reputation is everything
Repeat assignments are essential in the locum world, and will often become a good locum lawyer’s ‘bread and butter’. As a result, all legal locums need to have a strong reputation in the market, so it is important to go into each assignment and work to the best of your ability. We would also recommend that you stay at each assignment until the end, or as close to the end as possible. Leaving assignments early or not turning up at all can have a very negative impact on your career and be detrimental to you securing similar locum assignments at a later date.
You should always remember to leave a handover of what you have done and a list of any urgent matters. This will ensure you leave on good terms and will really help whoever is taking over from you when you finish the assignment. If you leave on a positive note, the door will always be open for you to return.
Always ask for feedback
We always advise our legal locums to ask for feedback after each assignment they undertake for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you have done a good job it is nice to know as this will build your confidence up. It is also important as it can help you find out if the client has constructive feedback, which can help you develop your skills and improve as a locum lawyer. If you are given feedback, always take it on board for your next assignment and turn it into a positive.
Keep your references fresh and up-to-date
Repeat bookings always depend on the quality of a locum’s references. It is therefore crucial to make a lasting impression on each role you undertake in order to get references that will help you secure additional assignments. Without good references it is unlikely you will secure regular locum contracts within the organisations of your choice.
We would strongly suggest keeping your references from assignments you have worked on within the last 12 months where possible. This will give you credibility and show potential employers you have performed well within the last year.
Work hard and be helpful at every assignment
This is our top tip. Generally when we contact a firm or legal department to gain a reference, we speak with the fee earner you covered or the secretary you have been working with, so the nicer you are around the office the better your reference will likely be.
If you would like more advice on surviving as a legal locum, give a member of our Legal Recruitment team a call or check out our latest locum vacancies here. Or if you know someone you think would be perfectly suited to a locum role, recommend them to us and if we place them we will send you an amazing gift completely on us.