The state of legal affairs in the United States is constantly in flux, but we’ve been noticing a pretty big increase in the demand for legal services throughout the last few years. This increase in demand varies from area to area, both geographically and in terms of legal practice. We thought we’d take some time today to tackle some of the legal practice areas that have already started emerging in a big way this year and which we expect will only continue to grow into 2024. Read on below to get a better idea of which practice areas your firm should consider taking an interest in and why we think they’re starting to emerge.
This probably won’t come as a surprise given the very public example that’s been going on the past couple of months, but labor law looks to be a big area for much more than just Hollywood in the coming year. This is due in large part to the labor shortage in America. Nearly 100 million people quit their jobs throughout 2021 and 2022. A huge driving force behind this is a nationwide cry for better pay and working conditions. That’s often where unions come into play, and when dealing with a union or unionized employee you’re dealing with labor law.
The field of intellectual property is wide reaching. Inventors, artists, writers and creators of all kinds often consider their creations their intellectual property. This practice area deals with copyrights and licensing and protecting the intellectual property of your clients. This has always been a practice area that’s in demand, but a recent trend is seeing an uptick in the area and it’s rather complex. The trend we’re talking about is Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which don’t currently have any regulations. Will that change in 2024? It remains to be seen, but this is definitely an interesting practice area on which to keep an eye.
Here’s another practice area that should come as no surprise. It’s not so much emerging anymore as it has been seeing a huge increase since 2020, for obvious reasons. Health and hygiene seem to be more important than ever in the wake of the global pandemic, so more and more individuals are fighting for better health care. This practice area is kind of two fold though, as you could be representing the patients and those looking for better insurance and care, or you might be representing health care organizations, clinics, care facilities and so on.
Environmental law has been boosted by climate change without a doubt. This practice area is another with a broad reach, but it’s incredibly important and is sure to see a continued increase throughout 2023 and into 2024. There are many different aspects of this practice area that you could dip into, from agriculture to sustainability and everything in between. If your practice works in environmental law you should have no shortage of work any time soon.
Naturally this practice area has seen a huge increase over the past several years, and that’s showing no sign of slowing down any time soon. Marijuana may have been federally decriminalized back at the end of 2020, but at this point in time it is still an illegal substance according to federal law. That means this is a field that requires a lot of nuance and attention to detail, but it also means there’s a ton of potential for even more growth.
Why is that? With it only being legal in 18 states currently, that means there are 32 states in which it could still become legal. There is still a big push for federal legalization and if and when that happens it will open up even more legal avenues. More and more cannabis businesses will need representation for licenses, loans, insurance and more. This is definitely an emerging field and it will only continue to grow.
This is by no means a new area of law, but it has seen a lot of growth over the past few years thanks to an aging population here in the U.S. The perfect illustration of this is the fact that in 2020, more than one in six Americans were 65 or older. According to projections, this number will only climb as the years go on, surpassing 80 million by 2040. As a result, elder law will become more and more important. This is a practice area that is very involved with their clients as it deals with their daily lives, taking care of their legal matters where things like retirement, healthcare, long-term care, financial planning, their estate and their will are concerned.
Energy & Natural Resources
Going hand in hand with environmental law, energy and natural resources law is another practice area emerging due in large part to climate change. While environmental law deals with a much broader palette of areas, energy law focuses solely on renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Oil, gas, wind, water, minerals, alternative energy sources and more are all things that are covered under this practice area. As more and more innovations in the field of alternative energy emerge, so too will the need for legal counsel. Take the automotive industry as an example, there is currently a huge shift towards electric vehicles. This is just one example of alternative energy and its emergence in the modern era.
There are a few other trends that we wanted to touch on that don’t necessarily have their own dedicated practice areas, so we thought we’d just touch on each of them briefly here.
This is a huge area of contention for Americans these days, with both sides definitely making their voices be heard. Many people think student loan debt could lead to the next great financial crisis here in the U.S., which means there’s a huge demand for legal representation. The crisis is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, so students and graduates will likely be seeking legal advice when it comes to paying off their loans. On the flip side, the president is trying to pass federal legislation that would forgive student loan debt, which would likely lead to a completely different emergence of legal needs.
It seems like the bad guys find a new way to digitally attack us every day. While most of them might be obvious to a majority of people, there are those getting less and less so, as well as plenty of Americans who might not find them quite as easy to discern. Law where cybersecurity and privacy are concerned are on the rise right along with them as people try to fight back against these cybercriminals. Of course, this is just one aspect of cybersecurity law as well. Legal representation is needed for plenty of other digital areas as well, such as software, ecommerce, information security, internet access and usage and privacy on the internet. This is definitely an emerging practice area that we’re sure to see continue to grow throughout 2024.
Legal expertise where drones are concerned might come up in a number of the aforementioned practice areas, because regulation is constantly in flux and relatively limited. Plus, vastly diverse from state to state. Drones are continuing to increase in popularity and prevalence, though, so this could definitely be an emerging area on which you should keep an eye.
Other Legal Trends
While we’ve touched on all of the practice areas that we’re predicting will show continued growth throughout the rest of the year and into 2024, there are a few other legal trends we thought we’d highlight while we’re on the topic. Staying on top of these trends and working them into your repertoire will ensure your continued success in the months to come.
The amount of smart technology available on the market these days is vast and increasing every year. From smart watches to speakers to cameras, people are more connected than ever. Connected to each other, connected to the internet and connected to every aspect of their lives. But these devices are also connected to daily life, which means they might catch things that would’ve gone unseen or unheard in years past. A porch thief caught on a security camera is much easier to prosecute, for example. Staying on top of smart technology trends and knowing when and how they can be used in litigation or mediation could be a huge boon to your firm.
Speaking of connectivity, much like with their technology people across the country are wanting to build a connection more than ever before, in more ways than one. Trust, transparency and access are incredibly important to Americans when it comes to doing business, so making sure to prioritize your clients and their needs will help you to build lasting relationships with your clients and keep their business.
While we’ve offered you plenty of examples of great new practice areas to consider, you want to make sure to do your own research. Figure out if clients in your area are looking for assistance in a practice area before deciding to take it on, then research exactly what it is they’re looking for to make sure you’re delivering the right types of legal services.
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We hope that this information has helped you get a jump start on 2024. If your law firm needs help establishing its digital presence, which is another big trend not just in the legal world but in tons of industries across the gamut, reach out to the Civille Team. We can deliver expert help in a number of ways to make sure you’re leveraging this huge area if you aren’t already.