Yes, is the short answer but there is slightly more to it than that.
Firstly, for a corporate finance lawyer very often the options for locum work tend to be more consultancy or ad hoc work rather than specific annual leave cover, sick leave cover or maternity cover. We find that a lot of companies and firms simply don’t recruit locums for that type of cover for these types of work and instead just look to handle the work internally with their current capacity rather than seeking outside assistance.
One of the key issues for a specialist such as a corporate finance, shipping or aviation lawyer is that in order to do ad hoc or consultancy work in most scenarios you’re going to need to be more generalist than you currently are.
Prepare Two CVs
For this reason we normally recommend that specialist lawyers in the corporate and commercial sphere look to have two CVs; the first of these will be a specialist CV for their particular niche area and the second will be a generalist CV in order to pick up ad hoc or consultancy work. This is because quite a lot of the ad hoc and consultancy work tends to be more broader based, and quite often both firms and in-house departments are looking for corporate and commercial lawyers with exposure in a wide area of work. This is particularly so in smaller niche practices and also in in-house departments.
In House Legal
In-house legal departments are very often after somebody who is able to assist with just about everything coming through the door in some shape or form, and they like lawyers who have had exposure to lots of different sectors and also to different types of work. It is not unusual for an in-house department to ask for a corporate solicitor to deal specifically with transactional work, but then to mention casually whilst placing the assignment with us that they wouldn’t mind someone able to handle commercial contracts, employment and any disputes that might arise. This is fairly commonplace, and even though the vast majority of the work would be corporate transactional stuff, they still like the idea of having someone in-house able to assist with other bits as well.
Smaller Niche Firms
Smaller niche commercial firms will often have very specific requirements when it comes to recruitment and seek solicitors who can assist with one particular issue. So for example, a recent assignment has been for a commercial property solicitor able to help with telecoms work and in particular easements relating specifically to telecoms companies. This of course narrows the field quite dramatically!
Another issue is sector exposure. Quite a lot of locum work particularly in house will actively seek a locum solicitor who has specific experience in one industry or sector. So for example, a few weeks ago we were contacted by a company looking for a solicitor with a background working with construction firms of a particular size, in specific locations and with experience of dealing with government procurement. Obviously if you are coming from another sector completely this type of vacancy is not going to be for you, but similarly if you have a broad CV and perhaps you may have done a bit of this work some years ago then it is important that this CV is used in order to access the types of roles such as these.
Banking Sector Lawyers
In recent years we have had a lot of CVs from lawyers who have worked in-house for various banks and financial institutions. It can be difficult for these lawyers to start themselves off on a locum journey simply because it seems to be very hard to identify specific types of work that a banking or finance lawyer has done that is relevant to the rest of the world! This is a direct quote from feedback from a Senior Legal Counsel recruiting for a recent in-house locum vacancy, who was incredulous at the number of former banking lawyers who were interested.
Banking lawyers have been successful in securing ongoing consultancy work where they’ve been able to obtain a couple of more generalist corporate commercial consultancy roles and then tailored their CV accordingly, trying to minimise their background working for a bank.
If you have had a long and prosperous career and are now looking to wind down, so take up locuming as a part time or short-term option then just bear in mind this is not the easiest type of work to secure when you’re coming from a particular field of law. Prepare two CVs and use them where appropriate.