FindLaw, the most-visited legal Web site, http://www.findlaw.com, has released its Top Ten Legal Predictions for 2009 at: http://news.findlaw.com/features/2009top10.html, a forecast of legal hot topics that include urban living, employee rights, “green” laws, military rights and legal issues impacting small business. FindLaw provides expert commentary and analysis and aggregates key articles from leading news publications, legal experts and pundits, offering accessible legal information to empower the consumer.
FindLaw is an important resource for consumers to educate themselves about how these changes and challenges impact their every day lives. In 2009, FindLaw predicts there will be a significant increase in legislation around controversial and integral consumer issues such as employee rights, “green” laws, military rights and internet privacy laws. As joblessness climbs, job seekers will continue to increasingly rely on online social networks, which may call for legislative action to further protect individual rights and secure personal information. In addition, with the new administration taking office in January, returning military personnel will continue to drive demand for information around military rights.
“Findlaw.com has become one of the most popular legal communities and resources on the Web, and we have seen a huge change in the way consumers are becoming empowered with our up-to-date information and FindLaw Answers,” said Stephen Noel, vice president of FindLaw.com. “Our experience and connection with the consumer gives us unique insight into what’s hot for 2009. One thing is for certain: laws around the Internet, Social Media and Personal Identity will continue to evolve over the coming year.”
The Top Ten Legal Predictions of 2009 was formulated by FindLaw in-house legal experts based on historical and 2008 top search terms inputted on the FindLaw.com website. According to FindLaw.com, the issues predicted to be the most searched for by consumers in 2009 include the following:
* Urban Living: FindLaw has seen an increased interest in legal issues pertaining to urban space in top metro areas. Diverse issues, such as noise and air rights, open space, neighbor issues, crime and blight, and youth and teen issues have increased the need for local governments to respond.
* Employment & Employee Rights: As more consumers are predicted to lose their jobs (President-elect Barack Obama’s economic aides are predicting four million) and as employers attempt to survive the economy by curtailing perks and benefits, FindLaw predicts a continued rise in the number of searches related to employment, performance, employee rights and discrimination.
* Debt & Collection: An historic number of people face debt and credit issues as the economic downturn continues, the implications of which include debt collection, bankruptcy for people and businesses, and mortgage and foreclosure issues for consumers. In 2008, thousands of visitors to FindLaw searched for legal information on a range of topics related to debt relief and that trend is expected to rise.
* Green Law: In an election year dominated early in 2008 by the high price of fuel and the environment, the topic of energy efficiency was top of mind for many. The call for more “green collar jobs” is expected to increase with Mr. Obama’s presidential administration. FindLaw foresees a greater need for legislation to support the creation and growth of “green” industries, including alternative energy, climate and automobiles, as well as Mr. Obama’s goal to create a Roosevelt-style public works program.
* The Internet, Social Media and Personal Identity: The MySpace verdict handed down in December of 2008 will likely have long-range legal implications in terms of how people are allowed to represent themselves on the Web. The proliferation of identity fraud and other types of scams used to perpetrate illegal activity will also continue to make news as new legal challenges arise related to sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Craigslist and other social networking properties.
* Military Rights: As more servicemen and women come home, and as the current economic crisis evolves, servicemen and women will be pursuing legal information related to health care, job training, housing and family.
* Driving — Particularly While Using Cell Phones and Other Digital Devices: Driving under the influence and driving laws are extremely popular search terms, and there is increasing media attention and calls for legislation to control the usage of digital devices while driving (and even walking in some cases).
* Child Custody, Support and Alimony: Many searchers continue to seek out information about how to determine when and how much support is due to former spouses and custodial parents after a divorce or split. In addition to parental custody and visitation arrangements, more grandparents are using legal means to gain visitation rights for their grandkids — with states increasingly weighing in on the issue.
* Marriage and Domestic Partnership: California’s Proposition 8 controversy, which relates to the recognition of gay marriage, will continue to create ripples as it makes its way through the courts this year. The legalities surrounding other types of non-traditional families will become more prevalent as families who rely on non-traditional heads of household seek formal acknowledgement and benefits from employers and states. A related and popular family law issue is “common law” marriage and the rights of those found to be legally bound by “common law” marriage in those states that recognize it.
Runners-up to the Top Legal Predictions of 2009 include citizenship and immigration issues and teen rights. To address the top issues in the coming New Year, FindLaw plans to provide special sections of the site to provide specialized audiences resources on the top legal predictions for 2009. More resources and full explanations can be found at http://news.findlaw.com/features/2009top10.html.
FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters, is a leading provider of free intelligent legal information, online marketing and client development services providing the legal industry and consumers with the legal knowledge to act. FindLaw is the most popular provider of consumer-ready legal information, do-it-yourself legal issues and expert commentary, analysis and free advice for almost any legal issue. The FindLaw team of designers and engineers create results-oriented Web sites for individual attorneys and law firms. FindLaw Web sites are strategically designed to attract and retain clients, as well as support lead generation by leveraging dynamic content and industry leading marketing tools. Attorneys can also be prominently listed on http://www.FindLaw.com, home to the largest online pool of general specialists that assist consumers in finding the most qualified attorney by practice area. FindLaw.com is the most popular legal Web site with nearly four million consumers visiting each month for free information about a legal topic, to solve a legal problem, or to find a lawyer.