Why should you consider locum legal work?

5 mins

Right now, the legal locum recruitment market is extremely buoyant. This means that more candidates than ever are coming to us for advice about moving out of their permanent role, wanting to know how they could benefit from a career as a legal locum.

It is sometimes assumed that there are limited positive benefits to leaving a permanent role to become a locum contractor, or that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. However, those working in the locum market have long enjoyed an array of benefits that have challenged this sometimes-negative view of contracting.

So, should you work as a legal locum? Most importantly, there is no right or wrong answer to this question because everyone’s priorities are different. Below we will explore the various benefits that locum work has to offer, to help you decide whether this could be the next best step for your legal career.

The legal locum market

First, a little context about the market we find ourselves in today; local authorities have always needed locum contractors to fill certain gaps and assist with workload overspill, but never has local government relied on locums as much as it has done in the last couple of years.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for locum workers has grown and has continued to do so. After an initial dip in the market during the first few months of the global pandemic, it began to quickly climb. We initially observed the most demand for skills in the areas of contracts and childcare law, then other areas picked up sharply too, such as: housing and litigation, then property and planning.

Soon our local authority clients were eagerly recruiting for locums across all areas of law, to fill gaps in teams following redundancies and early retirements, clearing backlogs of work, and dealing with incoming projects as the world began to find its feet again.

Due to the demand for temporary workers across what quickly became all areas of law in local government, pay rates were driven upwards. Permanent salaries could not compete, even considering the employee benefits of pension and sick pay, as salaries did not increase anywhere near as much as those seen in the locum field.

In addition, the pandemic caused many people to re-evaluate their lives and careers. There came a much bigger emphasis on achieving a better work-life balance, increased flexibility and more autonomy over how, when and where you work.

Ultimately, the promise of better pay, flexibility and work-life balance saw many legal professionals leave their permanent roles to reap the benefits of being a locum legal professional. This caused more gaps in teams, thus requiring more locum workers to cover vacancies, further reinforcing the demand for locum contractors.

Even though we are a few years beyond the inception of the pandemic now, the locum market remains very buoyant and is still delivering on excellent pay rates and flexibility. Locum work is certainly the more popular choice with our legal candidates and here are some important aspects to consider when deciding whether a locum role could be the best option for you:


Starting with the most obvious – there is a much larger earning potential when working as a locum contractor.

The demand for locum legal professionals - from locum Paralegals up to Heads of Legal - has driven up the pay rates. As such, you will be earning an hourly rate which is more lucrative than what you would be earning in the equivalent role on a permanent contract.


This is another main reason why people consider taking a step into the world of contracting. Whether you have a family to work around, have parent/caring responsibilities, are a single parent, or just simply want more control over your work-life balance, then locum work can support this.

There are different types of flexibility that someone may be wanting to achieve that they may not be getting in their permanent job, such as part-time hours, condensed hours or more home working. Shorter-term contracts also appeal to some candidates, enabling them to have time out between roles for things such as school holidays, travelling and personal projects.

We work closely with our candidates and clients to agree an arrangement that can be tailored around your needs and make work more convenient and enjoyable for you.

Long-term career prospects

It is a preconception that locum contractors have less security and must hop from role to role for continuous work. There are of course some short-term roles, which may be your preference, such as short-term sick/holiday cover or covering during a period of permanent recruitment.

However, most of our clients are keeping locum professionals in their roles for much longer than a few months and this could easily be from a year up to several years! This is growing in prominence, with an extremely competitive market meaning that permanent vacancies are left unfilled for much longer or indefinitely, requiring long-term locum cover.

New challenges and specialising

Many candidates use locum roles as an opportunity to advance their career and become more specialist in a certain area of law. Locum roles can have more scope to get involved with ad-hoc legal matters and projects.

This can give you opportunities to get involved in more high-profile matters and become more experienced in a niche area of work. We have found that locums are often able to differentiate their skillset against permanent employees and use this to their advantage to secure posts that involve more interesting work.

Creating a personal brand

By building up your experience in a specialist area, or simply being efficient and reliable at what you do, you create a strong personal and professional brand for yourself.

Many of our contractors have made a positive name for themselves in the market and, as such, they are often recommended for posts, or our clients call up asking for particular candidates by name to fill their new vacancies. Having a good CV, and a portfolio of glowing references, will go a long way in helping you secure the type of work that you want, and at a good price.

Building experience

Locum workers are using their freedom to choose when and where they work to their advantage, by building experience and advancing their legal career in this way.

This can be particularly helpful for Paralegals and newly qualified/junior Lawyers who want to get their foot in the door, but is also an advantage to candidates at any stage in their career. By working for different organisations and teams, you expose yourself to different ways of working, processes, cultures and types of projects.

Ultimately, you will become more versatile and adaptable in not only your technical legal experience but also how you approach and deal with different people and situations. All these collective experiences will help you build an impressive CV that will open up doors in your career journey.

Whatever stage you are at in your career, it can really pay to consider a locum post for your next role. These are just a handful of the reasons why more and more permanent candidates are leaning towards taking on a contracting opportunity.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions, want general advice on locum work or assistance in taking the next step in your career, please do get in touch with me by emailing chloe.cameron@sellickpartnership.co.uk or calling me on 0161 834 1642.

Alternatively, you can view out latest locum roles here.