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Rising pay and increased demand for interim lawyers


Along with most of the UK, I headed to Cornwall recently for a ‘staycation’, and what a wonderful break it was. Living in Devon, I am normally pretty bad at exploring the UK and would typically be jetting off to sunnier climates for my annual leave, but this year was of course different. A staycation in the next county to me was on the cards and I have to say it was such a fantastic break (yes, I was very lucky as the weather was on my side…always a bonus when camping for a few days!). Cornwall is just beautiful, so many quaint fishing villages, picturesque towns and hidden little coves for kayaking and paddle boarding.

During my trip it was evident that the pandemic had hit Cornwall, with our dinner and lunch reservations being cancelled last minute due to restaurants having to close and hotels having to reduce their room numbers because of staff shortages. Speaking to locals and hospitality staff, they explained to me the effect of the national staff shortage - staff being asked to isolate and the lack of European workers being able to travel due to Covid restrictions in their own countries - had really impacted local businesses. That got me thinking about the legal market and how over the past couple of very busy months I had really seen an increase in demand for interim and locum lawyers across the South West.


As expected, Brexit had had the biggest impact on supply of legal candidates in the market for many years, but along came Covid-19, throwing in an extra curve ball that none of us would have expected.

Inevitably, during the summer months Chadwick Nott see an increase in locum/interim roles across the UK due to holiday cover, especially during the school holidays, but this year the demand has been higher than ever. And I won’t even mention the impact of the stamp duty holiday and how that has affected the demand for lawyers!


This demand for lawyers has seen permanent starting salaries increase and interim lawyers inflating their hourly and daily rates. This is reflected in data collected by KPMG who have seen that the rising demand for staff this year to fill vacancies resulted in the sharpest salary inflation rate in almost 24 years of data collection.


With so many opportunities available currently in the legal market and pay rates increasing, flexible/ad hoc/hybrid working on offer and the opportunity to work in the beautiful South West with countryside walks on your doorstep or in a law firm with coastal views, now is definitely the time to take advantage of the current market conditions!


Our interim candidates are already securing assignments into 2022 and receiving repeat bookings. Chadwick Nott are instructed on interim roles which vary from 1–2 weeks holiday cover, 3+ months cover whilst the law firms continue with their permanent recruitment (in a candidate short market), and longer term 6 -12 months sickness or maternity cover. These roles can be full-time or part-time, and vary between office-based, hybrid, and fully remote.


If you’re considering interim work, there are numerous opportunities to consider that will hopefully suit you and your lifestyle, no matter which county you are based in. And what better way to finish work than to head out to explore the countryside or to brave an evening swim in the Atlantic?

For law firms, it is strongly advised that now is the time to plan ahead! This will not only avoid shortages of staff, but will alleviate pressure to current employees and help to continue to progress client files in a timely manner. If you have employees self-isolating and unable to work from home, or multiple employees on annual leave at the same time, or have gaps to fill due to resignations (we are all aware of the dreaded three-month notice period), it is best to let us know of your potential requirements as soon as you are aware of them.


Many interim lawyers that I have spoken to have echoed this message. Many of our interim candidates have reported numerous last-minute calls from agencies and law firms which is echoed further by the last-minute instructions that we are receiving every week. Not only does this impact the firm with added strain and pressure to your current employees and departments, but also impacts on the interim lawyer’s diaries and availability.


Our interim candidates are here to help, support and take the load off your teams. They can provide a well-needed extra pair of hands during any busy periods, whether that is due to being pinged and asked to isolate, spikes in workload, holiday cover, recruitment gaps or sickness cover.


So, if you are considering a move and would like to learn more about the interim market, how it works or to hear more about roles that I am working on, or if you would like to have the upper hand in this buoyant and competitive market and ensure your department keep their head above water, then please contact Bianca Gibbs at Chadwick Nott 01179 171 860 or 07769241524.


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