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Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law

Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law 3

Mike Hammell*

When we last looked at the growth areas for law in 2019, we featured some challenging areas of growth in the law, like cannabis law and IP law areas.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has provided some key changes to what the emerging legal growth areas may be in 2021 and beyond.

And so we have looked at some of the 2021 growth areas that lawyers might consider to secure their future roles.

So let’s update our legal futures lookout with these 10 areas of growth for lawyers.

Online Gaming and eSports

A fast-growing area, the pandemic has meant more people than ever have been playing video games and gaming generally.

Gaming companies continue to expand their activities and the sector provides some huge opportunities for lawyers seeking to expand their interest in every area from entertainment and sports law to intellectual property and patent law.

Similarly eSports has continued to grow quickly also. A variety of interesting and challenging legal issues arise with the area, including regulation of in-game gambling, ‘technological’ and ‘real’ doping and the like.

Intellectual Property

The growth in technology is ubiquitous and IP issues abound. Those with a knowledge of anything in that broad area touching every part of our lives from entertainment and sport to healthcare and education can look toward major opportunities emerging.

New platforms and delivery systems are emerging that is changing the way people operate, but it all opens up the key intersection between the law and technology.  The growth in IP law is only going to grow even further, perhaps enhanced also by the China/US trade war and its issues relating to IP protection.

The growth in these areas of law in 2019 and 2020 is set to continue.

Cannabis Law

The global legal marijuana market is valued at USD 17.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand further.  But with legalization moves in other jurisdictions too the legal issues arising from cannabis continue to provide revenue opportunities for lawyers.

The rise in the legalization of marijuana in various countries is one of the key factors driving the market growth. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is gaining momentum worldwide owing to recent legalization in various jurisdictions and involving a wide range of complex multi-jurisdictional legal compliance and regulatory issues that arise from cannabis legalization.

Drone Law

Drones were once confined to military use but the increased usage by governments, industry and commerce, as well as individual use, means that they have become a key area of legal interest facing an array of technological, aviation law and regulatory issues that lawyers need to deal with.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that drones could add £42bn to the UK economy alone by 2030. But their use poses significant legal and regulatory issues.

Aviation law has traditionally governed drones, but the challenge now is to ensure the law and regulations take into account the new users who see drones as just another tool to do their job, whether it be surveying or marketing.

Healthcare Industry

The life sciences industry has boomed during the pandemic, creating major legal opportunities.  The area includes biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and has seen a large increase in innovation related not only to the COVID vacine search, but also related to ancillary areas like those making personal protection equipment and other devices.

Across the Western World the baby-boomers are going to increasingly require healthcare services and healthcare and regulatory services related to them are going to be extremely important and points of hot growth.

In the US, there’s still going to be lots of disagreement, litigation and disputes over the Affordable Care Act or its successor.

Blockchain Law

The blockchain is yet to be fully understood by many businesses as to its potential, but there are a variety of ways that it can be used to make processes more efficient or to develop new service offerings, but momentum is gathering as its applications are more widely understood. 

LawFuel wrote recently about Blockchain’s growth in the legal field with its application to contractual and other work almost unbounded and growing daily.  The lawyers who can seize the upper, Blockchain ground will find themselves in an increasingly unassailable position as corporates, individuals, NGOs and even governments will often struggle to see how the digital platform actually works and its impact upon their business.

Environment & Climate Change

We hardly need to mention the words ‘climate change’ to send flashing lights to lawyers and others about the most pressing issue facing humanity – and the legal challenges it brings with it.

The larger law firms, and increasingly specialist firms, are focused on environmental, climate change and the phalanx of surrounding issues that emerge from these areas.

The growing interest in sustainability and increase in environmental regulation has opened doors in this strong practice area.

Career opportunities may lie in helping corporations understanding their environmental liability, at an NGO advising litigation against malicious companies, or drafting legislation on energy policy. Work for energy lawyers will likely increase as oil and gas industries grow and externalities like climate change and greenhouse gases create greater environmental issues. Advanced knowledge of regulations, commercial contracts, and relevant statutes is essential in this specialty.

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So where are the most lucrative law fields for law firms in 2019 and 2020?

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Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law 41  Intellectual Property law

2.  Cannabis Law

Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law 53.  METOO Issues

The #Metoo revolution  has unleashed a number of law firms who are working to develop their practices around sexual harasment, gender discrimination and related issues.

Some, like Quinn Emmanuel who have actually taken the #MeToo revolution to create a plaintiff-side litigation division focused on representing those who are the victims of sexual assault or harassment.

Firms anywhere can stumble into cultural blunders and social media backlashes that can have a highly detrimental effect upon business and reputation.

If they fail to understand the current social climate and know what employment policies should be applied, then the #MeToo scandal can break out with lawyers – representing victim or perpetrator – will be to the fore.  A fast-developing area.

4. Drones

Drones were once confined to military use but the increased usage by governments, industry and commerce, as well as individual use, means that they have become a key area of legal interest.

Drones are of course now being used for a myriad of purposes – from law enforcement to delivering parcels and filming sports events, movies or animals.

. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that drones could add £42bn to the UK economy alone by 2030. But their use poses significant legal and regulatory issues.

Aviation law has traditionally governed drones, but the challenge now is to ensure the law and regulations take into account the new users who see drones as just another tool to do their job, whether it be surveying or marketing.

5 Healthcare Law

Regulatory schemes that go into making that workable. And so, healthcare, regulatory, and transactional lawyers are going to be hot.

6  Elder Law

As populations increase and we live longer, so too does the requirement for elder law.  In the US, for instance, there is projected growth of those over 65 years of age to reach more than 20 per cent of the population by 2020.  Similar growth in the older population is predicted in the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Elder Law will play an ever more critical role in advocating and protecting the rights and wellbeing of older adults, many of whom have complicated medical issues. This area of law may also interact with Healthcare and Family Law with key legal issues such  as medical care, insurance, wills, end of life, trusts, guardianship and a range of other issues.

Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law 67  Environmental & Climate Change Law

Climate change issues, environmental concerns and the need to increase regulation in many areas of activity in many countries, has opened the door to significant legal work.

The growing interest in sustainability and increase in environmental regulation has opened doors in this practice area. Career opportunities may lie in helping corporations understanding their environmental liability, at an NGO advising litigation against malicious companies, or drafting legislation on energy policy. Work for energy law yers will likely increase as oil and gas industries grow and externalities like climate change and greenhouse gases create greater environmental issues. Advanced knowledge of regulations, commercial contracts, and relevant statutes is essential in this specialty.

Updated: Growing Legal Practice Areas for Lawyers in 2019 and 2020 : From Blockchain to Cannabis Law 78  Blockchain Law

9 Labor and Employment

Ongoing legal issues across multiple jurisdiction in employment/labor law see a continued demand for work in this often highly complex area.

Many corporations are growing their in-house labor force expertise while others become increasingly dependent on outside law firms. This specialization ranges across a variety of areas ranging from collective bargaining to discrimination, benefits and compensation and more.

2018’s opportunities for law firms is significant, but the fields – such as the Blockchain – will twist some heads to ensure the opportunities are also met efficiently and profitably.

Author – 

Mike Hammell writes about law issues for a variety of legal publications, law firms and others.

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