Working as an Interim Lawyer
Interim lawyers are in demand. Companies may be hesitant to hire permanent staff due to economic uncertainty; they might need absence cover through maternity leave; they could be ‘staffing-up’ for an upcoming period of extra workload or a project that requires specialist expertise.
A Flexible Option
Many of the people we place in interim roles cite flexibility as a key attraction. Positions can be for as little as a week, a few months or a year or more. It’s a great way to earn a good salary whilst considering your next permanent move. You can learn new skills, explore different disciplines and add to your knowledge. For overseas candidates, interim work can deliver valuable UK work experience.
Opportunities and Remuneration
Interim lawyers are required in every kind specialism, at all levels of qualification and experience. Pay levels vary accordingly, but as a general rule salaries equate to those of permanent staff – in-house rates being lower than those in private practice.
The Difference Between Temporary and Contract Assignments
Temporary and interim assignments - They’re usually much more short term than contract arrangements and also tend to feature shorter notice periods. The contractor is paid by the hour, submitting timesheets each week to the client for approval. The contractor’s agency is responsible for payment. All payroll administration is handled between the agency and contractor.
Contract assignments – These are often used when the need stretches over a longer timeframe – for instance maternity cover, long term sickness leave or a specific period of increased workload. Recruitment is similar in nature to that for a permanent role. Start and end dates are set, and the candidate is paid a salary and receives benefits from the firm or company.
Tax and NI Matters
whether you’re working on a temporary assignment and classed as a temporary worker or on a fixed-term contract and considered employed by a firm, tax and NI will be deducted through the company’s PAYE system.
If you operate as a limited company or work through one, the limited company pays you and is responsible for deducting your tax and NI. If you’re working on a fixed-term contract you can’t do so through a limited company – tax and NI must be paid your employer’s PAYE.
Typical BCL Interim Candidate Profile and Experience
Interim assignments tend to be urgent, so our candidates must be available to start at short notice. We can’t usually consider you for this kind of work if your existing notice period is longer than four weeks.
It’s almost always the case that employers require interim lawyers with at least two years’ PQE or equivalent experience. We are very rarely asked to source newly qualified lawyers.
Many of our candidates are between jobs, taking the time to consider their future path. We also place many ‘career locums’, people who enjoy the flexibility and freedom of interim work.
You can register your details with BCL here, and receive regular updates on interim opportunities as often as you like.
Document Review Advice
Document review work is usually performed by lawyers and paralegals with extensive and specific litigation experience. It’s not generally an area suited to newly qualified people.
However, it’s worth knowing for future reference that along with UK-wide document review opportunities, BCL specializes in placing people with ‘high end’ London firms.
Our connections include US, Magic and Silver Circle firms, and smaller ‘boutique’ practices. Many of our candidates find gaining a document review position is an effective ‘foot in the door’ with some of the most prestigious firms.
The crucial candidate criteria include:
- Qualification and experience in litigation
- Having two references to register with us
- Being registered to work in the UK
- A readiness to begin work at short notice
As much litigation work crosses boundaries, you may also need to have worked in several different jurisdictions, and bi or multi-lingual skills can be a real advantage.