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Are you a candidate considering moving into the locum market, but feeling unsure when it comes to employment continuity, or concerned that there’s limited flexibility? You’re not alone. I speak to job seekers every week with the same apprehension, therefore it’s common to have questions, as well as some hesitation.
Often people benefit from the reassurance of those in similar situations, so I have spoken with some of my current locum candidates about their experiences, not only with Sellick Partnership but with their locum careers generally.
This is usually one of the first, and most crucial, questions. Putting it simply, being a legal locum involves being employed for a temporary period within a legal team. Locums can be required for a number of reasons including: covering for someone on maternity leave, standing in for long-term leave or, offering extra support when there is a heavy workload, which could be due to an influx of cases.
When it comes to experience, locums can range from those that are newly qualified (NQ) to professionals with decades of post-qualified experience (PQE). This is largely because there are a number of reasons that people go into locum work. It could be because someone is preparing for retirement, or that a NQ solicitor is wanting to try out different areas of law.
In the Public Sector Legal team at Sellick Partnership, we specialise in both locum and permanent recruitment. However, due to the demand across the industry with the organisations we work with, the locum market is our busiest.
It’s common for candidates moving into locum work to worry about having gaps in their employment as they look for new positions, but this is rarely the case. Most locum placements tend to initially run for three months; however, we have candidates that have been in the same role for years. The length differs depending on the requirement.
Bernadette Horan, Property Solicitor
“I have had two very long-term assignments, one which lasted for five years and my current which is in excess of two years. Both times the original assignment was for three months. I have been very impressed with the efforts made by Sellick Partnership. I’m contacted regularly to discuss the assignment and whether there are any pressing issues.
“I also like the way that we can discuss long-term plans, looking at whether the assignments will come to an end and suggesting any possible new positions. When I have a short-term role, I am confident that Sellick Partnership will be able to secure the next suitable position quickly for me.”
Locum assignments tend to be ongoing across all areas of law that we specialise in, this is due to demand. Of course, there will be a point where the assignment will come to an end, but we work closely with candidates to ensure they have continuity and no employment gaps.
Contracts Solicitor for Hull City Council.
“I have worked as a Locum Solicitor at different times over many years. Sellick Partnership have always been able to present a range of suitable locum opportunities and have been able to arrange moves from one assignment to the next without any significant gaps.”
Joanne Cane, Childcare Legal Officer
“I always feel secure that there will be contract for me if my current assignment comes to an end. Sellick Partnership make sure that I am happy in my current assignment with regular catch-up calls. If my contract was coming to an end, I would be confident that there would be no gaps in my employment - unless I wanted to take a break.”
With continuity being a concern for some legal professionals, flexibility is a worry for others. Workplace flexibility embraces the idea that employees can be productive regardless of where, or when, they work. This way of operating, acknowledges employee needs and can offer a better work-life balance for many.
Workplace flexibility can be particularly important for those wanting a non-traditional structure, or those juggling their career with parenthood; needing to finish earlier or take an afternoon off, for example.
A lot of legal professionals choose to become a locum due to the flexibility it offers, in comparison to being a permanent employee. Locum work allows you the freedom of being able to work from home, or from another location, and be trusted to work flexible hours.
Property Solicitor for North Tyneside Council
“After many years working long hours as a solicitor in private practice, I am now a Locum Solicitor working for a local authority. I am enjoying the option to work from home and the flexibility of working part-time, deciding my own hours and when to take time off. My current local authority does not have time recording or targets which leads to a less pressured environment.”
Being a locum gives you that autonomy to be able to decide what hours you would like to work, for example if you wanted to work part-time.
Four-day weeks are also growing in popularity, with candidates wanting full-time hours with shorter working weeks, with three days off instead of the ‘normal’ two-day weekend.
Depending on the area of law (some positions require court work), most locum roles can be fulfilled remotely or with very minimal office attendance. Many of the candidates we support love this aspect of locum work, as commuting can take up a lot of their day.
Flexibility as a locum particularly benefits people who have other commitments alongside work, for example those with childcare arrangements or caring responsibilities.
Zisan Kayan, Adults Solicitor
“Locum work has been instrumental in allowing me to continue working in the legal field after having a baby. The flexibility and ability to work from home has meant that I can work whilst juggling childcare by doing elements of the work required at times that suit me whilst also making myself available during traditional work hours when required.
“This has helped my work-life balance because there aren’t the same expectations and rigid rules associated with permanent positions of being in a certain place at certain times.
“By being able to do work I love and being trusted to get on with it, I have been extremely motivated to do my very best for the client and the I think the clients I have worked for have benefitted from this in return.”
We have candidates working with us who prefer to work for a set period of time, before having a few months off work afterwards to travel or take time for themselves. Locum work provides this flexibility and when a candidate is looking to get back into a position, we work towards their preferred start date.
Susan Kerr, Licensing Solicitor
“I would recommend locum work for its flexibility. After three decades of being tied to a permanent role, locum work now allows me the freedom to take breaks when I choose, to enjoy travel.”
When it comes to candidates working with Sellick Partnership, it is important to highlight the process so that you know what to expect when it comes to being supported in your legal career.
Here’s a breakdown of how we practice:
Lorraine Fenwick, Property Solicitor
“I have worked for Sellick Partnership for almost nine years and have benefitted from excellent advice and support throughout. I always feel secure that there will be job for me when an existing contract ends.”
To find out more about working with Sellick Partnership, or for information on how we can help you to find an ideal legal job within the locum market, get in touch with me directly or visit our legal recruitment hub here.