Hottest Practice Areas Post Pandemic III: Insurance, Regulatory, Intellectual Property & Tax Law

COVID-19 has affected everything in our society — legal practice specialties included. New focus has been placed on areas of law that relate to a world in crisis.

Every year, The National Jurist asks experts to predict what will be the hottest practice areas. This year looks vastly different than years past, given the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The past two weeks, we have announced the top two practice areas and what came in third and fourth. Here's a look at what came in 5th-8th on our top ten list. 

5. Insurance Law

Many people don’t acknowledge how important insurance is until they get into a situation where they need it. With COVID-19, many needed it.

However, claims can get messy. Enter lawyers.

“Insurance law expertise to manage ever-mounting caseloads is perennially in demand, ranking in our research as a top area for job opportunities,” Sullivan said.  “Insurance litigation matters should increase as companies handle complex insurance cases pertaining to recent business interruptions, supply chain shortfalls and contractual obligations related to the pandemic.”

6. Regulatory and compliance

As a result of COVID-19, numerous entities will likely reevaluate their policies and procedures, refine existing regulations and create new ones. 

“Public health regulations are likely to be updated, human resource policies created to address what we’ve experienced,” said Eric Menkhus, associate dean for new education initiatives at Arizona State University. “Companies and governments are going to need to be able to comply or enforce those regulations. It’s easy to envision that workers with a legal education will be in high demand in these scenarios.”

Sullivan agrees that the demand for regulatory and compliance lawyers with grow.

“At a time when federal, state and local regulations are changing rapidly, law firms and companies seek experienced compliance managers to help them stay current,” he said. “There will be an ever-evolving compliance strategy for organizations as they resume business and work to establish a hybrid workforce while keeping employee and client safety a priority.”

7. Intellectual property

For the third year in a row, intellectual property law is on our hottest practice areas list. Even with some businesses closed and many employees forced to work from home, there continue to be new ideas and innovative products.

“Patent litigation trends can be counter-cyclical as plaintiffs look for an advantage by filing suit when a defendant is weak. And in tough times, defendants often find merit in settlement or other resolutions rather than expensive, protracted litigation,” said Jon Kappes, an intellectual property attorney and a lecturer at Arizona State University.

However, he said the rate of patent filings closely mirrors R&D expenditures. If businesses tighten their budgets and reduce R&D spending, that could lead to a reduction in new patent filings.

“IP firms may see some corresponding short-term decline in work and revenue,” he said. “But it is also true that times of struggle can birth new ideas and innovations. Therefore, on balance, IP-focused students can expect a consistently good job market.”

Trademark and patent filings continue to grow, sustaining demand for intellectual property experts. The enforcement of patents and other proprietary information also is a high priority for many businesses, while tech innovations continue to fuel the need for patent attorneys who can help protect research and development investments.

8. Tax law

Uncle Sam dished out some major cash this year during the pandemic and postponed Tax Day by three months. So how will that affect taxation law? Well, simply put, it will continue to create job security for tax lawyers.

“While some transactional tax practices such as mergers and acquisitions are cyclical, that is, tied to economic activity, tax covers just about every aspect of human endeavor, from estate and wealth transfer planning, to nonprofits focused on social justice and other issues, to IRS audits,” said Adam Chodorow, associate dean of academic affairs at Arizona State University. “To be clear, firms may hunker down and slow all hiring, but tax work should not be significantly diminished during the crisis.”

Editor's note: this is the third story of a four-part series. Check back next week for Hottest Practice Areas IV to see what practice areas experts round our the top ten list.

Related stories:

Hottest Practice Areas Post Pandemic: Litigation, Employment Law

Hottest Practice Areas Post Pandemic II: Privacy, Data Security, Information Law & Healthcare Law

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