To read the most recent “What’s Hot and What’s Not” report on trends affecting the legal profession, click here.
Bob Denney’s big fourth-quarter report on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession always keeps us on top of the most important business trends. But no need to wait for year’s end to feel a little smarter about the legal landscape. Around this point in the calendar, Bob issues a midyear update reporting on fluxes in the marketplace. So, what’s bubbling up at 2015’s halfway point? Here’s your insider sneak peek, before the full update is released next week.
Which Practice Areas Are Hot — Or Not?
Here’s a look at what’s happening in practice areas — and where in-house counsel look for lawyers.
1. Red Hot: Labor & Employment. The U.S. Labor Department’s efforts to enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding minimum wage and overtime pay have caused contentious debates over the legal definition of an “employer” and an “employee” at companies like McDonald’s. That’s in addition to the legislative battles in a growing number of states on raising — or not raising — the minimum wage.
2. Hot: Elder Law. This was getting hot last year and has continued to grow quietly and steadily because people are living longer — as you may have noticed! It has even become a separate practice from family law as some enterprising firms are now hiring paralegals or social workers to provide counsel and assistance to estate planning clients in selecting assisted living and extended care facilities.
3. Cooling: Litigation. There has been some decline in the major litigation that was going to the largest firms because of clients’ pricing, project management and process improvement policies. As the night follows the day, layoffs — particularly of associates — show some signs of resuming. So far there has been less of an impact — note we said “less” — on midsize firms and litigation boutiques that have maintained lower fees or developed alternative fee arrangements.
4. Cold: Bankruptcy. A casualty of the economic recovery. Some firms have either shut down or spun off their bankruptcy practice.
5. Hottest New Geographic Market: Singapore. In the past few years major U.S. firms have opened, or acquired through merger, offices in Singapore because it is a regional financial and arbitration center that plays a central role in the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN).
BONUS: Where does in-house counsel shop? As listed in our 2014 year-end report, law firm websites, Google and LinkedIn are the three major sources in-house counsel use when searching for attorneys.
Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc. He says “it seems like forever” that he has been providing counsel on management and growth strategy to firms throughout the United States and parts of Canada.
If you’d like to receive the full midyear report next week, send Bob a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your name added to his mailing list.
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