Testing Times – Trying Out Locum Services

It’s that time of year when Interim Lawyers gets tested by various law firms as part of their emergency cover. Very often in law firms it seems that when work gets quiet the partners will ask the practice manager to see how fast they can find a locum and at what sort of rate. They will give the practice manager a specification of two to three months for either full or part-time cover, and it is usually for conveyancing.

The practice manager will get in touch with us, either by registering the vacancy on our website or giving us a ring. Sometimes I get tempted to ask if the request is just a test, but other times I am not quite sure and we do tend to be quite careful as to how we deal with these calls. The majority of the time we run the vacancy past our locums and see who we have and get CVs across.

If you are the practice manager thinking about doing this, please spare a thought for us. It is that time of year when work is starts to get quiet and if we send your vacancy out to our locums there’s a very good chance we’ll get bombarded with interested locums, who are of course available to do your work, because the market is quiet around Christmas.

What often happens is that we will take the vacancy from the practice manager, deal with it, get a selection of CVs across and then hear absolutely nothing for 24 hours before we get the obligatory response to tell us that they have managed to deal with the work in-house, and thank you for our efforts nonetheless. This is not an uncommon experience for the months of November, December and January.

I have never quite worked out which quality mark or accreditation scheme this particular exercise arises from, whether it is Lexcel or CQS, or something more generic such as ISO 9001.

What would be better is a request to your practice manager to make contact with us, give us some example dates and ask us to say who we would likely have available for these times. The one thing that is missed in all of these trial runs is that you may well phone us in November and find that there are 20 locums available and willing at an extremely competitive price to cover your assignments, but when you actually need the cover in July next year, the number of candidates will be very different and the price considerably higher.