All legal practice areas are important and keep the laws that need to be enforced in place. However, some are growing faster than others in recent years. Which practice areas are growing in popularity?
The most challenging, hot practice area is healthcare law. It involves federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations among healthcare providers, vendors, and patients of the healthcare industry. With the elderly population in the United States rises as Baby Boomers are approaching their senior years, healthcare law has become increasingly important. This population requires the most medical attention, and laws and regulations can hinder access to needed doctors and medical treatment. Since Medicaid, Medicare, and insurance regulations are changing constantly, providing legal services to those who need help affects their lives beyond the legal implications.
Energy law governs the taxation and use of energy, both renewable and non-renewable. This practice area is popular for many firms, especially those in Ohio, Texas, Colorado, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, where natural resources for fuel is abundant. Oil and gas reserves are the main drivers for the growth in energy law, while air and water quality continues to be a prominent environmental issue surrounding this practice area. In the past, energy law was focused on natural gas regulation, but has expanded to include other energy regulations, such as oil, gasoline and extraction taxes.
Intellectual Property & Patent Litigation
Intellectual property and patent litigation has increased significantly over the past few years. It encompasses copyright, patents and trademarks, each with their own set of laws, to protect “creations of the mind” (artwork, literary pieces, inventions, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce). Patent applications have increased ever since the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) was passed in 2011, and made it easier to patent ideas. Under this act, the patent system was changed from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system. We can expect intellectual property and patent litigation to continue to grow as more people want to patent their ideas and work.
Entertainment & Sports Law
Entertainment and sports law helps artists (singers, dancers, painters, etc.) and athletes/teams (both amateur and professional) negotiate deals to participate in a production and performance, or book a contract. It is not necessarily its own practice area, but various areas involved include intellectual property, labor and employment, advertising, mergers and acquisitions, tort law, and internet law as well put together. Some entertainment lawyers also help consult production companies to figure out how to finance their films. With America’s growing entertainment and sports industry, it seems as if this practice area will continue to grow.
As trends change, so will the popularity of legal practice areas. For example, real estate law was prominent before the recession, but has recently fallen in demand. Over the years, it is expected that the legal practice areas will become increasingly more segmented and specified to accommodate the many people and things that need to be protected and represented under the law.