How to Set Up as Self-Employed

Whilst you can work via an umbrella company (something we don’t tend to recommend – we don’t accept commissions from umbrella companies unlike a lot of our competitors), the easiest way by far to work as a locum solicitor or legal executive is simply to become self-employed. You can work on an employed basis at the same time.

How to Become Self-Employed in the UK: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming self-employed can be very rewarding and give you a sense of freedom, but it also requires careful planning and understanding of the legal and financial obligations involved.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Plan to Become a Locum

Before you leap into self-employment, it’s essential to evaluate your viability as a locum. Register with Interim Lawyers and keep an eye on the assignments coming through. Some areas of law are much busier than others… Writing a decent CV is a crucial step (and one a lot of locums forget!).

Step 2: Register as Self-Employed with HMRC

Once you’re ready to start, you need to register as self-employed with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This registration is crucial to ensure you fulfill your tax obligations. You need to register even if you’re only working on a casual or part-time basis. The process can be completed online through the HMRC website: Register for Self Assessment.

Step 3: Understand Your Tax Responsibilities

As a self-employed individual, you are responsible for paying Income Tax through Self Assessment. You will need to keep records of your business’s sales and expenses, and file a tax return every year. HMRC provides detailed guidance on how to keep records and how to file your Self Assessment tax return.

Step 4: Set Up Your Business Bank Account

Setting up a business bank account is advisable to separate personal and business finances. It makes tracking business transactions easier and more transparent. You’ll also need to set up a process for managing invoices and payments. Understanding your cash flow is essential for maintaining the financial health of your business. There are a number of free business bank accounts and options these days, so it couldn’t be easier.

Step 5: Arrange Your Business Insurance?

You don’t usually need to arrange insurance – in 99% of cases you are covered by the professional indemnity insurance of the firm you work for.

Step 6: Understand Your Legal Obligations

Being self-employed also means complying with any relevant legal regulations related to your business. For locums this doesn’t tend to be a thing!

Step 7: Build Your Brand and Market Your Business

Developing a strong brand and an effective marketing strategy are vital for attracting and retaining customers. Consider creating a professional website, engaging on social media, and networking both online and in person. Effective marketing can help you reach a wider audience and grow your business. Even a well-prepared profile on LinkedIn can make a difference. Remember, potential clients will check you out online..

Step 8: Prepare for Ups and Downs

The life of a self-employed individual can be unpredictable. It’s wise to prepare for fluctuations in income by setting aside savings for lean times. Very relevant for locums.

Step 9: Continue Learning – CPD

Keep up with your CPD – firms do like to see evidence of this. The market and industry trends continuously evolve, so staying informed and ready to adapt your business model is crucial for long-term success.


Becoming self-employed in the UK is a straightforward process, made a lot easier in recent times by HMRC. Essentially you just need to be aware of the need to tell HMRC and then complete self-assessment, which for most people is quite easys. Always use reliable sources like the HMRC website for up-to-date information and compliance requirements to ensure you meet all your legal obligations.