For locum solicitors in the UK the busy period every year starts in May and runs through to September. This is the timeframe when annual leave cover is booked and firms often need extra help dealing with increased caseloads during the conveyancing busy season. People tend to buy and sell houses when the weather is warm, and start looking after Easter.
There is a statistic somewhere that shows the housing market increases by over 50% during the summer months compared with winter, and unfortunately this tends to coincide with most solicitors’ annual leave! As a result, this is a busy time of year for all concerned, and residential conveyancing locums are particularly in demand. As conveyancing is the busiest area for locum work, it follows that when the property market is busy and when most conveyancers are on annual leave, there is going to be most work available for conveyancing locums.
We have found that firms tend to fall into two categories – those who have regular locums they know will come in to provide cover on an annual basis and have been doing so for years, and those who leave it to the last minute hoping they can struggle through and then discovering that actually if they even think about it, they could end up in hot water with the SRA. There are also the unfortunates who find that their regular locum suddenly discovers they cannot cover the annual leave and leave the firm scrabbling around for a conveyancing locum at the last minute.
Other busy periods bizarrely are around January time when staff have an annoying habit of handing in their notice to start a new job in April, requiring medium to long term cover until the firm can recruit. There is also the baby boom effect that always seems to kick in around January, and we have found over the years that maternity cover requests increase.
Areas of law other than conveyancing tend to be much more ad hoc as firms don’t tend to need annual leave cover to such a degree, although family law is pretty similar to conveyancing. It is still the same though that May to September is the busier period for all areas of law as well as conveyancing, and there is usually very little work from about December through to February unless it falls into the category of staff leaving or maternity cover.