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Summary: When there are downturns in the economy, lawyers can rely on these practice areas to see them through.
Downturns in the economy will always hold sway over a vast array of professions.
From plastic surgeons to CEOs of car manufacturing companies, these individuals realize the economy can dictates the outcome of their business not just from quarter to quarter, but year to year.
So how can attorneys cope with downturns in the economy?
Simple, a lawyer just needs to focus in one of the following practice areas.
In regard to the economy, any financial analyst, professor or industrialist will tell you that at some point in our lifetimes, we will experience sharp economic ascents and descents. This should not be surprising. After all, the last recession we experienced was less than a generation ago, while other financial experts believe another recession may soon be on its way.
Understandably, a person has to protect themselves when faced with the chance of a recession. They will need to:
Limit their expenses.
Attempt to pay off as much debt as possible.
Consolidate what funds are left over once their debt lowers to a reasonable amount.
Pray that this, a recession, won’t last much longer.
Depending upon who you talk with, tactics exist to help ameliorate some of the financial pain and suffering a company will eventually experience in the midst of a recession.
The same goes for attorneys; they too can (or will) be affected by economic downturns, and in that, might have to adjust their practice areas accordingly.
The Balance Careers recently published an article that lists the six best practice areas for attorneys who are in the midst of a recession. Of course, some practice areas are more apparent than others when it comes to what might best shield a lawyer during poor economic times.
However, one should also remember that law is fluid as are people’s legal needs. It can be said that many of the legal environment’s practice fields are truly unbridled by any economic situation.
Litigators will always be needed, as will attorneys specializing in family law, trusts and estates. But just in the same way automakers find themselves focusing on economy cars during poor economic times or concurrent quarters of high gasoline costs, the profession of law adjusts itself contingent on good or bad times. And why is that? Mostly it’s because the law firm’s clients themselves may be going through difficult times.
Simply put, while some practice areas suffer during difficult economic times, other practice areas thrive. Below are seven law practice areas that are known to gain traction during tough economies, prompting a need for additional legal professionals as the tough economies continue.
During times of economic downturn, litigation seems to grow in popularity. The Balance Careers article tells us affected individuals and organizations are more likely to resort to the legal system to recoup financial losses or to use litigation as a cash flow tool to avoid paying money owed. As a result, the number of civil lawsuits filed in state and federal courts is rises throughout the country. The recent uptick in litigation of all types is driving demand for legal professionals who can represent clients in areas such as complex civil litigation, commercial litigation, insurance defense, class actions, labor and employment, personal injury lawsuits and regulatory actions.
Environmental Law (Green Law)
Clean technology, renewable energy the management of carbon assets as well as keeping greenhouse gasses at manageable levels has created work for environmental law attorneys. As going green becomes a global priority, lawyers who can advise clients on green initiatives and sustainability issues are in demand. Experts predict that greenhouse gas, climate change, global warming and other environmental legislation will increase the legal work for environmental lawyers in coming years. While climate change such as this can be politically charged, purveyors of green law should not be hemmed into the partisan net that so many believers and nonbelievers become entangled in. As many green law lawyers should represent those who don’t believe in climate change as those who are staunch advocates that the world is going through a massive and mostly man-made climatological crisis.
The Balance Careers maintains that bankruptcy law is one of the fastest growing practice areas in the legal industry today. With unemployment reaching record levels, many consumers no longer have the means to pay their debt and obligations. Moreover, a declining economy along with escalating medical costs and record foreclosures has created a surge in Chapter 7 filings. The ailing economy has also prompted more business to seek legal help in restructuring their assets. As bankruptcy work continues to explode, attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals with bankruptcy knowledge will be highly sought after.
Labor and Employment Law
If someone feels they are being taken advantage of or somehow abused in their work environment, they call a labor and employment lawyer. And now, with workplace intensity on the rise, especially in the midst of an ailing economy, business downsizing, a declining job market, and increased government enforcement will dramatically increase employment lawsuits. In a strong economy, employees find new jobs quickly and are less inclined to file employment-related claims. However, unemployed workers facing financial ruin are more motivated to pursue litigation. Moreover, litigation rises in an economic downturn as regulators step up enforcement and organizations file more lawsuits to collect money owed. Corporate counsel predicts litigation to swell in the future, according to a recent litigation trends survey, and labor and employment disputes are predicted to account for a significant number of those lawsuits.
One’s personal economics can suffer greatly due to an overall deterioration in the economy. Homeowners have it particularly bad as they struggle to keep up with their mortgage payments. Some experts estimate that as many as 10,000 foreclosures occur every day in the United States. The Balance Careers cites outdated state laws, such as fast-track foreclosures and excessive penalties, have exacerbated the national foreclosure epidemic, and created a newfound popularity in foreclosure law along with a strong demand for legal professionals who can help protect the rights of lenders, investors, business owners and homeowners as they go through the foreclosure process.
Intellectual Property Law
Within any organization, intellectual property is that organization’s most valuable asset. New developments in science and technology creates the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds in these areas to help protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works. In today’s competitive landscape, demand for intellectual property lawyers is growing. As long as invention and innovation exist, intellectual property lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals will come into demand to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations. Even when other law practices are affected by a recession, intellectual property law continues to thrive.
As we increasingly rely on the internet, social media, electronic libraries, emails and texts, and as more data is accumulated and stored electronically, corporations are challenged with the task of wading through a growing sea of ESI to locate information relevant to a lawsuit. E-discovery attorneys and litigation support professionals help to identify, preserve collect and process, review then produce ESI in litigation. As the costs of e-discovery escalate, corporations are under increasing pressure to comply with new e-discovery rules and judges are less tolerant of discovery abuses. The e-discovery industry is forecasted to grow tremendously in the next few years and legal professionals with technical knowledge and skills will be at the forefront of this new and lucrative legal niche.
The practice of law is not the same as the practice of finance. Lawyers cannot shield themselves with a 50-50 practice area of, for example, bankruptcy and real estate, to minimize their economic hit in the same way investors shield themselves with a 50-50 mix of stocks and bonds. Even if this were possible, what lawyer back in law school would think they might one day suffer as lawyers simply because they took on the wrong practice area during a certain economic climate?
What lawyers need to remember is there will always be a time for them. Law is a wide-ranging and sweeping occupation that has many layers throughout its practice fields. So fear not, lawyers; whether you’re in a practice area that leans toward a good or bad economy, sooner or later someone will require your assistance with their legal case. That’s when your name will be called, and whatever the economic atmosphere is at the moment, you’ll still have to get up and go to bat.
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