As law firms deal with the Wuhan Virus issue and “pivot” towards high growth areas of legal practice, it is lilfe sciences that provides a key area in law firm marketing to which firms will pay close attention.
It has already been reported by The Recorder that the pandemic has seen firms with life science practices placed in a stronger position than many to weather the pandemic successfully.
“March was my busiest in about a decade,” Ryan Murr, San Francisco-based partner in the corporate transactions department practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, told The Recorder. “And I’m hearing from others that the life sciences practices remain robust.”
Murr says the areas where life science clients require assistance is broken down into three, key areas – The dealing with SEC, CARES Act loans and the like; specific life sciences issues such as conducting trials related to the virus and then deal-related work which, he says has not slowed down.
Similarly, Sidley Austin’s food, drug and medical device practice in Washington DC has been busy. Rebecca “Becky” Wood, a former chief counsel at the FDA and leader of Sidley Austin’s regulatory practice in that area said her team had been busier than ever since COVID-19 broke.
“Not only do we have the freight for FDA-regulated companies, but now we have a huge influx of questions about being part of the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Wood says that legal advice in this area was “evolving” in the same way as the virus itself, pointing out that there have been a lot of PPE-related queries, which then moves into diagnostics and then issues over the development of a vaccine.
“We are seeing a groundswell of interest from established companies in the life sciences area to do their part to offer solutions to their communities,” she said.
The Law Marketing Opportunity
From a law marketing viewpoint, there are opportunities for law firms to ramp up their practices involved in dealing with matters such as FDA and corresponding health regulatory bodies in other jurisdictions where the virus issue will create a growing need for law firms to advise clients on how to adapt to the new ‘Covid world’.
In the US and elsewhere, there is a tendency for a greater responsiveness to new product development, making them more accessible and responsive.
But beyond pure ‘life science’ issues there are other queries relating to smaller businesses, subsidies and health and safety issues as various moving parts creates cross-practice involvement and work.
Everything from not just life sciences, but healthcare, litigation, employment, real estate all involve change parameters that create new law marketing opportunities for firms who grasp the changed legal landscape.
There is a general view that deal flow will slow as the opportunity to obtain credit will also become more difficult but, equally, there are new opportunities with private equity and other opportunities.
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