♫ Feeling hot hot hot — Feeling hot hot hot ♫
Lyrics and music by Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell, recorded by Buster Poindexter.
This is Bob Denney’s 23rd annual report on what’s going on in the legal profession, not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. Like all his previous reports it is based on information he and his organization compiles throughout the year from many sources including discussions with leaders in the profession. As always, some of his findings are obvious but they still must be included. Others are surprising and some are contrary to the Conventional Wisdom. Nevertheless, this is the picture at the beginning of 2012, a year which may well hold both economic and political surprises.
Banking. Perhaps the hottest area in Financial Services due to uncertainty if the “Volker Rule” will be implemented this coming July when regulations that are part of Dodd-Frank take effect.
Health Care. A broad area that includes regulatory, finance, M&A, real estate, labor & employment and professional liability. Regulatory may become red red hot. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, expected by June 30, will be a legal, as well as political, flashpoint.
Energy. Oil, coal and gas in certain parts of the U.S. as well as Canada. Regulatory, land use and litigation are particularly hot in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania because of Marcellus Shale. Nuclear power is getting hot due to safety concerns in the U.S. but alternate energy may be cooling somewhat.
Intellectual Property. Due to patent reform (“First-to-file”) but mostly for start-ups and smaller companies since large companies were already on a FTF system because of their global operations. Patent Litigation is becoming red hot for most firms while rate-sensitive patent prosecution work is being reduced and even eliminated in larger firms. (more…)
♫ Together we’ll stand – Divided we’ll fall
Come on now people – Let’s get on the ball – And work together…♫
Ask a lawyer who does divorces about the work that he or she does for clients and they will most probably answer we practise family law. As lawyers, we all understand that and it creates a commonality among colleagues – we are family law lawyers or corporate lawyers or criminal lawyers… etc.
But ask that question of a person going through a divorce about who they want and you will get a different answer – we want someone who can get me out of this relationship, help me with custody of my kids and help create an equitable split of the marital property. With respect, this isn’t just about seeing what we do differently from our clients. This goes to the heart of the relationship – clients focus on results. What should we focus on as a lawyer? On creating value.
Why is this important? Today there are two symptoms that I think indicate that the legal world is not as healthy as we may otherwise think it is. One is the huge growth in the self-represented litigant. The second is the growth of websites and online services that come very, very close to the practice of law (such as legalzoom.com) or other self-help-with-divorce (or similar) sites. The growth of the self-represented litigant represents the fact that legal services cannot be marketed to an increasing slice of society. In other words, this group cannot see the value they would receive for the money they would otherwise spend on lawyers. Those using those self-help websites see value in the documents and advice that they receive from these web services. (more…)