Many aspects of the job market are stagnating with an unpredictable economy. Even jobs in technology – a sector that seemed hotter than ever – is facing layoffs and scarcity.
Fortunately, the legal industry is on a growth trajectory. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts opportunities for lawyers to grow by roughly 10% between now and 2031.
Whether you’re deciding on a practice area or looking to make a change, 2023 offers new opportunities for growing practice areas. Here are the best law practice areas for the future.
Growth in Law Practice Areas
Anyone who’s worked in a law firm with different practice areas knows how the industry ebbs and flows. For example, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and securities law tend to flourish when the economy is strong, but that’s when litigation goes down. When there’s enough for everyone, lawsuits decline.
Conversely, when the economy cools, corporate attorneys face slow periods and trial attorney work skyrockets. Most of these shifts are influenced by cultural and economic changes, as well as the political climate.
It’s important to understand how trends affect your practice, even if you’re not in a specific practice area. Some of the emerging areas of practice have an impact on well-established areas of practice, such as healthcare and insurance.
Fortunately, legal practice management software supports lawyers in every practice area. You can stay on top of trends, stay organized, and capitalize on opportunities in the industry.
Areas of Law That Are Growing
Technology and Intellectual Property Law
Despite regulatory scrutiny, technology companies are spending more and more on legal services to facilitate sales, acquisitions, and intellectual property (IP) assets. There’s also growing complexity with IP, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the increasing adoption of AI tools to support creative endeavors.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law
Data privacy and cybersecurity laws are complex and vary between states and jurisdictions. They also vary by industry, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and FDIC. More lawyers in this practice area are necessary to reduce privacy and security risks and help organizations comply with increasingly complex regulations.
Environmental and Sustainability Law
Environmental and sustainability law deals with the laws and regulations surrounding air and water quality, sustainability, agriculture, hazardous waste, and biodiversity. This growing practice area relies on lawyers to act as policy analysts, advisors, compliance consultants, and risk assessors with the rising interest in climate change and environmental protection.
Healthcare and Telemedicine Law
Healthcare and telemedicine is also on the rise as the healthcare industry becomes increasingly complex in its operation, provision, and delivery of healthcare services. These lawyers may work to reduce healthcare costs, protect health consumers, and promote better access to care.
International Trade and Compliance Law
The cost and complexity of compliance with international trade regulations are increasing, with disparate local laws and varied business and cultural practices that create new challenges. There’s a growing demand for lawyers to help international organizations navigate these obstacles.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been gaining traction in the legal field in recent years as people look to save on legal fees with expensive traditional litigation. This demand increases the demand for lawyers skilled in ADR techniques, particularly online.
Employment and Labor Law
Discrimination claims are growing, along with wage and hour complaints, following the shakeup of the pandemic. Employee activism is at a 40-year high and clients are looking for lawyers to support their endeavors.
Entertainment and Media Law
With content demand growing across all kinds of media entertainment, communication, and advertising companies, there’s an increasing demand for entertainment and media lawyers to support them. Licensing, IP, and the impact of generative AI are also fueling this demand.
Law Practice Areas on the Rise
Access to justice has always been a priority in the legal industry, but that’s been moved to the forefront with growing issues surrounding immigration in the US. Between 2016 and 2021, three key policies restricted the immigration of students, relatives of citizens, and suspension of visas, creating more demand for immigration lawyers.
Real Estate and Construction Law
Inflation has devastated the real estate and construction markets, leading to exorbitant costs for homes and construction projects. As we wait for the markets to self-correct, there’s a greater demand for specialized legal services to assist with projects.
Trusts and Estates Law
Trusts and estates law is growing in demand as more baby boomers pass their wealth to the next generation. The pandemic was also a boon for estate planning efforts as people recognized the need to have affairs in order and prepare for the unexpected.
Bankruptcy and Restructuring Law
Macroeconomic headwinds in 2023 – such as inflation, looming recession, great resignation, and supply chain malaise – bring increased bankruptcy and restructuring activities on the horizon, which calls for skilled bankruptcy lawyers.
Family Law and Domestic Relations
Divorce has been less adversarial in the past decade, leading to growth in mediation and collaborative divorce and skilled family lawyers to manage these cases. This also applies to domestic relations like child custody and visitation.
Energy and Renewable Energy Law
As the energy industry moves past oil, gas, and power, there will be more federal regulations around renewable energy. Lawyers are necessary to facilitate the transition to low-carbon transition.
Compliance and Regulatory Law
Legal departments all over the world are focused on regulatory compliance, particularly in financial services and pharmaceuticals. As transparency rises and regulatory frameworks shift, lawyers will be necessary to help organizations navigate the changes.
Practice Areas That Have Slowed in Growth
Traditional Litigation and General Practice
Law firms are increasingly reducing their resources in general practice as the demand for specialized practices and boutique firms increases. Litigation is also on a downturn in favor of arbitration and less adversarial – and expensive – options to resolve issues.
Corporate Law and Mergers/Acquisitions
As mentioned, corporate law and mergers/acquisitions boom when the economy is strong. Facing a recession, these practice areas are slowing in growth and may stagnate until the economy rebounds.
Securities and Capital Markets Law
Capital markets slow down with higher interest rates, economic uncertainty, and increased regulatory scrutiny. With that, securities and capital markets law will ride the economic lows of the market.
Outlook on Practice Areas Growth
The cultural, political, environmental, and economic climate affect the legal industry like any other. Lawyers feel the ebbs and flows of these changes, but emerging areas of law offer potential growth opportunities for specialized work well into the future.
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