While some law practice areas suffer during times of economic recession, certain practice areas thrive. Below are seven law practice areas that are gaining traction, prompting a demand for legal professionals with experience in these areas.
During times of economic downturn, litigation becomes increasingly popular; in tough times, individuals and organizations are more likely to resort to the legal system to recoup financial losses or to use litigation as a cash flow tool to avoid paying money owed. As a result, the number of civil lawsuits filed in state and federal courts is rising across the country. The recent uptick in litigation of all types is driving demand for legal professionals who can represent clients in areas such as complex civil litigation, commercial litigation, insurance defense, class actions, labor and employment, personal injury lawsuits and regulatory actions.
Environmental Law (Green Law)
A rising awareness of environmental issues such as the use of clean technology, renewable energy, managing carbon assets and keeping greenhouse gas inventories has created work for environmental law attorneys. As going green becomes a global priority, lawyers who can advise clients on green initiatives and sustainability issues are in demand. Experts predict that greenhouse gas, climate change, global warming and other environmental legislation will increase the legal work for environmental lawyers in coming years.
Bankruptcy law is one of the fastest growing practice areas in the legal industry today. With unemployment reaching record levels, many consumers no longer have the means to pay their monthly debt and mortgage obligations. Moreover, a declining economy, escalating medical costs, and record foreclosures have created a surge in Chapter 7 filings. The ailing economy has also prompted more business to seek legal help in restructuring their assets. As bankruptcy work continues to explode, attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals with bankruptcy knowledge will be highly sought after.
Labor and Employment Law
An ailing economy, business downsizing, a declining job market, and increased government enforcement will dramatically increase employment lawsuits. In a strong economy, employees find new jobs quickly and are less inclined to file employment-related claims. However, unemployed workers facing financial ruin are more motivated to pursue litigation. Moreover, litigation rises in an economic downturn as regulators step up enforcement and organizations file more lawsuits to collect money owed. Corporate counsel predicts litigation to swell in the future, according to a recent litigation trends survey, and labor and employment disputes are predicted to account for a significant number of those lawsuits.
As the economy deteriorates, more homeowners are struggling to keep up with mortgage payments. Some experts estimate that as many as 10,000 foreclosures occur every day in the United States. Outdated state laws, such as fast-track foreclosures and excessive penalties, are exacerbating the national foreclosure epidemic. The national foreclosure crisis has created a growth in foreclosure law and a demand for legal professionals who can help protect the rights of lenders, investors, business owners and homeowners and guide them through the foreclosure process.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property is an organization’s most valuable asset. New developments in science and technology have created the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds in these areas to help protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works. In today’s competitive landscape, demand for intellectual property lawyers is growing. As long as invention and innovation exist, intellectual property lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals will be needed to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations. Even when other law practices are affected by a recession, intellectual property law continues to thrive.
As more data is stored electronically, corporations are challenged with the task of wading through a growing sea of ESI to locate information relevant to a lawsuit. E-discovery attorneys and litigation support professionals help identify, preserve, collect, process, review and produce ESI in litigation. As the costs of e-discovery escalate, corporations are under increasing pressure to comply with new e-discovery rules and judges are less tolerant of discovery abuses. The e-discovery industry is forecasted to grow tremendously in the next few years and legal professionals with technical knowledge and skills will be at the forefront of this new and lucrative legal niche.