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Is the Mindset of a Locum “totally different”?

We have recently experienced a higher volume than usual of locums applying for permanent roles particularly in conveyancing. If locums do apply for permanent work there can be a host of reasons. Maybe they have taken on a financial commitment that was not there before and require a regular income, or maybe they want to settle in one area and work locally rather than travel across the UK.

The vast majority of locums are usually undertaking the work because they like the flexibility. For example we know of one locum who likes surfing, another who plays polo, others who work as ski instructors and chalet assistants during the snow season. Working as a locum means that they can fit their other interests and work in around assignments. Naturally this does not appeal to anyone, particularly if you have a mortgage to pay, as locum work can be very sporadic and is not guaranteed.

In the past firms have been extremely reluctant to employ locums in permanent positions, and locums have been notorious at taking permanent roles until the market picks up and then department to return to the more lucrative locum work.

It is probably for the latter reason that most firms are very hesitant to employ locums on a permanent basis (apart from where the locum has worked for them for a reasonable length of time and they know them quite well). However recently we have had an email from a firm that has given a different perspective on the reasons for not employing locums on a permanent basis.

Locums are more interested in sitting at a desk counting down the hours than progressing matters

The partner who sent the email indicated that she had never met a locum who was interested in actually progressing matters and they all seemed more interested sitting at a desk counting down the hours. This was of course in conveyancing and is an interesting perspective because it is feedback we sometimes see from firms when they have had a locum providing annual leave cover.

Thumb Twiddlers?

There are locums out there who soon get fairly well known in the industry for turning up, sitting at a desk, twiddling their thumbs, making telephone calls to agencies to find out what other work they’ve got, and not actually doing very much work at all. We know of a locum who essentially ran his own business from each office he was locuming at.

Professional Locums

Similarly there are locums out there who are very well known for going straight in, sorting out all outstanding work, asking for more work when they have finished their current matters and generally being extremely proactive. The latter type of locums tend to get lots of repeat bookings and the former tend to develop a reputation for being unbelievably lazy and utterly useless.

It is unfortunate that some firms have gained the perception that all locums behave in the lazy way rather than in the proactive way, and that this is tarnishing the reputation of locums generally in the eyes of some firms.

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 16 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 http://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.co.uk. Interim Lawyers is the specialist locum arm of the Ten-Percent group and we have over 700 locums on the books. We can usually keep our locums busy throughout the year, although it does very much depend on the market. Get in touch with me to register assignments or look for locum work."