The Flexible World of Locum Solicitors: Benefits and Challenges

Whilst working as a locum solicitor offers notable advantages in terms of flexibility and variety, it also comes with its own set of challenges. This article explores both the benefits and the obstacles that locum solicitors face. If you would like to chat with one of our consultants about becoming a locum solicitor, please give us a call or schedule a time to speak.

Benefits of Working as a Locum Solicitor

1. Flexibility
One of the most significant advantages of working as a locum solicitor is the flexibility it offers. Locums can choose when and where they work, often negotiating their schedules and terms of employment. This level of autonomy allows them to balance personal life and professional commitments more effectively than in permanent positions. Besides, if you decide to work for a firm and realise the boss is unhinged, the staff are all crazy, the files are a complete mess and the office smells of labrador, you can immediately leave!

2. Exposure to Diverse Legal Environments
Locum solicitors have the opportunity to work with various law firms and in-house teams across different regions and sectors. This exposure can enhance their legal expertise in theory (and this can be one of the reasons we advise some lawyers to think about local authority or in house locum work as it can broaden horizons). For conveyancers it can involve exposure to different CMS, or in some firms alternative methods for scattering files around the office!

3. Potential for Higher Earnings
Depending on the demand, locum solicitors can command competitive hourly rates, especially when specialised skills are in short supply. Short-term placements particularly can offer higher rates compared to permanent roles of similar nature.

4. Networking Opportunities
Working in various legal settings enables locum solicitors to build a wide network of professional contacts. These relationships can lead to more job opportunities and potentially enhancing their career prospects and professional reputation. More relevant for corporate & commercial solicitor than high street lawyers we think.

5. Professional Development
Each new role provides locum solicitors with challenges that promote rapid professional growth. They are often required to adapt quickly and effectively to different legal practices, and this is a skill learnt over time by seasoned locums.

Challenges of Working as a Locum Solicitor

1. Uncertainty and Job Security
Unlike permanent positions, locum roles come with inherent uncertainty. Assignments can be sporadic, and gaps between placements may pose financial instability. This lack of job security can be stressful and is one of the major drawbacks of the locum career path. If you have a high mortgage payment every month, think very carefully before locuming! Great when the market is good, but pretty awful if the market drops.

2. Lack of Benefits
Locum solicitors typically do not receive the same benefits as their permanently employed counterparts. Pensions, paid leave, sickness benefits, and other employment perks are usually not part of the package, which can be a significant disadvantage, especially for those who depend on these benefits. Annual leave? Forget it. Unpaid time off is the norm.

3. Professional Isolation
Moving between different firms and locations can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation, as locum solicitors may not be at a place long enough to form lasting relationships or feel fully integrated into a team. Some locums love this element of the work, others despise it.

4. Administrative Burdens
Being essentially self-employed, locum solicitors need to manage their own taxation, National Insurance contributions, and possibly VAT. This administrative side can be time-consuming and requires a good understanding of business and tax laws. Its not particularly onerous if you just go self-employed, but it will involve a tax return still.

5. Pressure to Quickly Adapt
The need to quickly assimilate (like the borg – Star Trek reference) into diverse work environments and immediately start contributing can be demanding. There is often little time for lengthy onboarding processes, and locum solicitors must hit the ground running, which can be both challenging and stressful.


Working as a locum solicitor in the UK offers a unique set of benefits and challenges. While the role allows for greater flexibility, variety in work, and potential for higher earnings, it also brings issues like job insecurity, lack of employee benefits, and professional isolation. Portfolio careers are increasingly normal, and locuming is part of this.