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May 28 2021

How to become an interim lawyer

Legal Career Tips

Elena Pitsillides

Elena Pitsillides

A large grey King chess piece is seen to the right of frame. Behind it, the Flex Legal branding promises you ancient knowledge on how to become an interim lawyer.

In the wake of Covid, the working world has unquestionably changed. The legal working world is no exception to this rule, and many lawyers have started to think about whether there's a different or better way to work in law. We believe that there is, and that working as a flexible interim lawyer is the clear answer to making smarter life/work choices. This blog post aims to cover this in more detail by breaking down a few key definitions, laying out the big pros to the interim lawyer lifestyle, as well as some crucial things you might want to consider before jumping into interim lawyer work. Let’s get started!

What is an interim lawyer?

In short, and interim lawyer is a lawyer who works through an agency, in fixed-term roles, to cover gaps in legal teams or provide support during peaks of work.

What are the perks of being an interim lawyer?

Enough definitions - let’s get into it. Here are the benefits of becoming an interim lawyer:

  • Variety - perhaps the single most cited benefit of the interim lawyer lifestyle is the sheer variety of work on offer. The fixed-term nature of interim work exposes you to an enormous range and diversity of legal areas, projects, and clients. If you want to find an interesting new project in a different industry, or an alternate type of firm, or a varied size of business, you’ll have freedom to mix up your lawyering as and when you want.
  • Directness - interim work is very streamlined. As it is focused purely on set projects or specific matters, your relationship with the work is much more direct. You’ll be focused on delivery, which means your relationship with your hiring firm / line manager will be much simpler. You can expect to spend less time doing routine admin, and more time actually getting stuck into the work.
  • Lifestyle - it doesn’t need sugar coating, the lifestyle perks are an undeniable plus of interim lawyer work. When you’re free to choose what projects you work on and when you work on them, you’re also free to choose when you don’t. If you want to take a break between interim roles to focus on other interests or commitments - interim work could accommodate that. If you've always dreamt of working from the sunny shores of Greece - interim work could allow you that opportunity. If you would prefer to slow down, take it easy, and spend more time not working beyond the usual 28 days annual leave - interim work could be a great avenue for that.

What should you consider before going interim?

It should go without saying by now, but the interim lawyer model is a little different  from the conventional world of lawyer work. Whilst we are obviously heavily biased in favour of more lawyers jumping to an interim side of life, there’s a few things worth considering before making the switch:

  • Availability - one of the challenges to interim legal work is definitely the short notice periods before starting roles. Firms and companies requiring interim lawyers generally need support on short notice, meaning your availability will need to be more or less immediate. Ideally, you should be ready to jump into lawyer placements on 2 weeks’ notice or less. We understand that stepping out into the interim world can feel like a leap of faith, which is why we are always willing to talk with lawyers toying with the idea of going interim work about the realities of making the transition.
  • Consistency of work - the inherent nature of fixed-term interim placements does inevitably come with tradeoffs. Whilst the variety of work on offer is one of the major perks of interim lawyering, it also means the consistency of your work and rate of pay will vary, which can be a challenging thing to adjust to. If you’re taking more time away from work between interim roles, you might need some savings to lean back on. Additionally, because roles vary from firm to firm, company to company - you won’t get the security of a familiar routine, pay, or pace of work. We would encourage taking some steps to prepare for this, both financially and personally.
  • Insurances - another key thing to consider is insurances. Interim placements with law firms should always provide Professional Indemnity insurance for our lawyers which will cover legal advice and reserved legal activities. In-house roles will usually provide our lawyers with the same insurance as they would have with a permanent in-house counsel (normally not covered by Professional Indemnity) and to the extent that they need additional comfort, someone employed by the company should be reviewing the work. If our lawyers cannot be covered by our client's insurance for whatever reason, we do have Professional Indemnity insurance that would cover our lawyers but not for legal advice or reserved legal activities. The reason for this is that it is practically impossible to get this kind of insurance unless you are a law firm. Alternatively, if you have a Ltd Company with your own insurance and the engagement is outside IR35 you are welcome to use this if preferred.

Why you should go interim through Flex Legal

We certainly like to think we’ve got the interim lawyer deal pretty ironed out by this point. Our platform is home to hundreds of lawyers who have embraced the benefits of the interim lifestyle, and are happier than ever working through Flex Legal. Here’s some of the reasons joining an agency like Flex Legal is the right move:

  • Technology - joining our award-winning online platform takes the administrative labour out of getting roles. There’s no need to look around for each position, no need to apply to each one, no need to write cover letters. You specify what you’re looking for on our platform, and we find the roles for you. We pop them over to you by email or SMS, and leave you in charge of which ones you accept.
  • Pay - we take care of all the financials for you! Not only do we handle all invoicing, PAYE, and pension contributions for your roles, but our client services team can advise you directly on where you fit into the interim lawyer market. We can find the right rate for your experience and specialism. At Flex Legal, we fundamentally believe in negotiating fair and honest rates. You don’t get underpaid, and the clients don’t get overcharged.
  • Client development - everyone knows that client development is massively time consuming, and certainly not to everyone’s liking. As part of the Flex Legal platform, our dedicated sales team will work on your behalf to handle the account management and commercials side of lawyering, leaving you to focus solely on delivery of projects.

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