If you speak to people in the legal industry, they will tell you the job market has slowly started to pick back up since the economic downturn in 2008. Over the past couple years, the United States job market has grown and is still repairing itself after a hard hit. Now that the legal industry is coming back on its feet, there are a few trends that are taking over and reshaping the legal world.
When the recession began in 2008, lawyers were hit most significantly with many losing their jobs. One of the hardest hit practice areas was real estate law as a result of less building and selling of real estate; real estate attorneys had to flee to other areas of law. Now that the recession is coming to a close, the real estate market has left us with a gap in available real estate attorneys. Luckily, real estate law is now rebounding from the recession as the economy continues to grow and more real estate is being bought. As a result, we have more law firms competing for real estate talent.
We have seen a growth in the need for lawyers with specializations. For example, tax and ERISA law are expanding practice areas that are in high demand. Law firms are looking for more lawyers with these specializations. Rather than lawyers who solely have a book of business and good skills, firms want lawyers with expertise in specialized areas of law that are current hot practice areas, such as energy law, environmental law, and healthcare law.
The legal industry is a multigenerational workforce. For the first time, the nation has seen four generations working side by side as more people are working beyond the average retirement age. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y currently make up the workforce in the United States with different work experiences, dynamics and knowledge that is shaping the way the country is functioning.
E-Discovery is a recent amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that make electronically stored information and data on handheld devices discoverable to litigation. This electronically stored information (ESI) includes emails, instant messages, e-calendars, graphics and other electronic data that is used. The explosion of ESI has increased the demand, cost and complexity of e-discovery, and changed the face of large-scale, complex litigation. The digital age continues to grow and will further increase the need for more e-discovery roles in law.
The world is becoming a smaller place. Globalization of domestic law firms are expanding to other countries world-wide, and forming more intercontinental mergers, and changing the views of traditional legal practice boundaries. Due to the Internet, communication has become easier and developed a better data security network to protect private information. As law firms continue to expand around the world, globalization will continue to shape the legal industry.
A more eco-conscious mindset is also a growing trend in the legal world. “Going green” has become a major priority globally. In this sense, more green law firm initiatives have been impacting businesses and the practice of law as a whole. Environmental law, also known as “green law” is a growing practice area as law firms are setting up sub-practices in fair trade, organics, renewable energy, green building and climate change.
The trends that are coming up in the world are all shaping the way the legal industry is changing. A multigenerational workforce, e-discovery, globalization and an eco-conscious mindset are the most prominent trends that have had the largest impact on how law is practiced and changing today. As the world continues to change in the future, we will see more trends that will shape the legal world.
We recently examined the hot and growing practice areas of law. Read about them here.