Legal Trends: Stand-Out Practice Areas, Marketing and Business Development Strategies to Watch

Bob Denney’s highly anticipated What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession is out, and even after three decades of tracking trends important to law firms, this year’s report still manages to contain some surprises. Some of the key findings include the rising trend in eSports and Gaming as an industry group/practice area, the hot field of Bitcoin, and the consistently steady practice area of Healthcare law – in spite of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s an overview of other trends reported:

Practice Areas/Industry Groups

Immigration and Cybersecurity reign supreme along with Healthcare as practice areas identified as “Red Hot.” Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Elder Law, Sports (emphasis on contracts) and Real Estate & Construction are also practice areas which are considered prime areas for firms in today’s economic and political climate.  In California, environmental law is also making a mark, on account of increased regulatory activity.

Areas that appear to be cooling off for firms include Commercial Litigation along with Labor & Employment law.

Marketing & Business Development

The Department of Justice is predicted to begin enforcing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in the coming months, and law firm websites need to be in compliance, in order to avoid lawsuits and declining SEO performance.  As such, website design and development compliance must be a priority for all law firms.

The addition of sales professionals (particularly in the personal injury space) is tracking as a trend.  In some cases, non-lawyers used to develop new leads, are actually receiving formal sales training and coaching.  Though this is an interesting concept, it remains to be seen whether the addition of non-lawyer sales professionals to firms will be a lasting, or successful trend.

Other Trends to Watch in the Legal Field

  • Working remotely or from a virtual office is on the rise
  • Smaller offices are closing to save on overhead
  • Mergers continue to break records, with larger firms acquiring small to midsize firms in droves
  • Demand for lawyers and total number of lawyers in the country is expected to be unchanged, though first-year hiring is expected to rise in the coming months
  • Multidisciplinary practices are on the rise, with firms hiring non-legal professionals to integrate into the firm practice

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