Booking Locums in Advance – When is the Best Time?
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Booking Locums in Advance – When is the Best Time?

When is the best time to book locum solicitors for the year ahead?

We often get asked when an in house legal department or a law firm should be booking their locum cover for the coming 12 months. Private practice locum work tends to be cover for short term annual leave or longer term sick leave or maternity leave. In House locum work can be ongoing consultancy, ad hoc, part time or full time, together with longer term sick leave or maternity leave. We very often provide 9-12 month locum cover to in house legal departments where there is a specific project requiring an additional pair of hands.

Easiest Time to Book Locum Solicitor Cover

For all types of assignments, whether solicitor, legal executive, contracts manager or general lawyer, the earlier you can give notice to us to secure the services of a locum, the better.

Whilst it is difficult generally to know exactly when you need a locum, it is also sometimes fairly straightforward to work out in advance when senior staff plan to take annual leave, as well as when it’s likely that there’s going to be maternity cover required. Summer short term annual leave cover is a lot easier to get cover for if you book it in January. It gets a lot harder in July!

Hardest Time to Book Locum Lawyers

The hardest time to secure locums is the week or day before you actually need somebody. This is not recommended unless absolutely necessary, but it quite often is very necessary and we do specialise in emergency cover.

Post-Christmas Booking Period

Most locums come out of the Christmas break very keen to fill up their diary for the year. And this is by far the best time to be looking at taking on locum cover for the coming year ahead. This is because locums get very nervous if they can see lots of blank pages in their diary over a period of time and are very keen to get some bookings in in order to guarantee themselves some income for the coming year. If you are able to register your assignment in January or February, you will get most interest from our locums and consultants, whether in house cover or private practice.

In House Lawyer Locum Cover

In terms of in house legal cover it is very important to start looking for locums as early as possible. This is because most locum assignments for in house legal departments tends to be corporate or commercial work, and most locums who cover these fields also undertake consultancy on an ad hoc basis for other clients or companies. Furthermore, it is much more common for in house legal departments to look for fixed term contract cover rather than self-employed locum cover.

Locums who cover in the corporate & commercial areas tend to have more limited availability generally over a period of time, particularly if the assignment is full time rather than part time or ad hoc.

If an in house legal department has a requirement to take on a locum to cover for say three to six months, because of an anticipated sabbatical or maternity cover, then the best time to be looking to book the cover is about six months beforehand.

This is partly because of locum availability and consultancy work, which usually they’re very happy to fit around other commitments, but also because of the time it very often takes in house legal departments to get sign off on locum cover.

In House Locum Work Sign-Off

In private practice it’s very often just the partners who have to give authorization to book a locum, but in house legal departments very often have to undergo a distopian Catch 22 situation of getting sign-off from three or four different departments. This can be HR, finance, business development and senior management who all have to have a say in whether or not the company can take on a consultant to cover work for say 6 months. This can take quite a substantial amount of time, so the earlier you get going with sourcing cover, the better.

Summary

Our the advice is that the earliest you can look at getting a locum into prime cover, the better. But don’t worry if you don’t have cover right up until 24 hours beforehand because we can always try to assist. Whilst this is not guaranteed, we are experts in providing short notice cover for solicitors’ firms and in house legal departments. Visit the Interim Lawyers website to book an assignment with us.

Jonathan Fagan is a legal recruitment consultant for Interim Lawyers and Managing Director of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited. "I have been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years. I am a non-practising solicitor, on the Roll since June 2000, and also a director of the Ten-Percent Group of Legal Recruitment websites. I also regularly comment on legal recruitment via my blog https://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.co.uk. Interim Lawyers is the specialist locum arm of the Ten-Percent group and we have over 1100 locums on the books. We can usually keep our locums busy throughout the year, although it does very much depend on the market and fields of law. Get in touch with me to register assignments or look for locum work."