Traditionally it used to be said by locums that they could pick up 8 out of every 12 months in locum work for property and private client, or for other areas of law of less intensity, 6 months out of every 12. So what is the current rule of thumb for locum work?
Hard to say, but this is our guide to the rule of thumb for conveyancing, wills and probate, family, in-house commercial and litigation.
For conveyancing, we think the rule of thumb at the moment is 8 months out of every 12 if you are able and willing to travel. If you are not able or willing to travel we think the rule of thumb changes to about 5 months in 12 in London and the South East, and 4 months in 12 in the North and Midlands. If you are an established locum you can probably add an extra month to this on average every year.
For wills and probate locum work we think the current rule of thumb is 9 months in 12 for any locum with more than 3 years PQE. I don’t think this changes for established locums as it’s not common to see repeat booking for wills and probate work, and assignments tend to be longer term. If you are not able to travel, the rule of thumb will drop to about 6 months in 12 at the most.
For family locum solicitors the rule of thumb is probably at about 7 months in 12, a dramatic improvement on family locum work from a few years ago. There is currently a shortage of family locum solicitors across the UK, and we don’t anticipate this changing for some time. If you are unable to travel, however, we think the figure will drop to about 4 months in 12 as assignments seem to be fairly well spread out.
For in-house commercial work, the rule of thumb is probably 5 months in every 12 months working for most locums. Although assignments tend to be well paid and seem fairly plentiful, it is fairly common for them to be cancelled at short notice, or a recruitment exercise to be undertaken that never actually follows up. Quite a lot of time can be spent chasing shadows when looking for in-house commercial work, and for this reason, we think the rule of thumb for the amount of work every year is probably quite low. If you are unable to travel this will drop right down to about 2 months in every 12, if that.
For litigation, the figures are probably fairly similar to in-house commercial unless you have established clients, but most litigators don’t tend to do holiday cover – it tends to be longer term or maternity leave cover. So you are probably looking at 4 months in every 12 if you are able to travel, and 2 months in every 12 if you are needing to look for something local to your home address.
These are very arbitrary figures and change regularly, but they reflect a locum market generally that has not really changed in many years, whether in good times or bad. Firms will try to muddle through if the market is not particularly strong, but booking locums was the first area to pick up for recruitment after the last recession.