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The changing legal industry of the United States

With a projected growth rate of 4%, USA are one of the countries which has surely moved to the path of development, despite the previous catastrophic year. It is currently home to 1.3 million lawyers, each belonging to different areas. as many sectors have witnessed a massive change in their strategies, in order to improve their performance, the legal industry hasn’t stayed behind. The post-covid times saw a drastic change in demand of several law fields. Each of these areas are different, ranging from social and political, to environment, it has provided a chance to the lawyers to adapt to these changing situations, while at the same time keeping up with the changing regulations.

While the pandemic has helped to contribute to these emerging areas of laws, this growth areas has not only affected the new lawyers, but also experienced ones, whose current area of practice overlaps with these emerging areas of practice. For instance, in case of an employment lawyer, being up to date with the changes and regulations in labour laws is important.

The main areas of law that have been witnessing a high growth are mainly,

1. Cybersecurity

2. Cannabis

3. Labour

4. Elder law

5. Energy

6. Environment

7. IP

8. Health

  • The pace of technological discoveries has been increasing quickly, resulting to an immediate need for legal laws and regulations to keep people safe. With this, demand for lawyers in this field has certainly increased. Privacy and cybersecurity laws are very complex and often vary between states. For any lawyer in this field, it is important to assess the current policies. These lawyers also reduce privacy and security risks to comply with applicable state and federal laws. A good privacy and cybersecurity lawyer needs to understand various policies, such as GDPR (Europe), HIPAA (US healthcare), FDIC (banking), and more.

With the existing technology, such as smart devices, a lawyer can use it to their benefit. Use of smart appliances and devices likes speakers; smart wearables have increased in people’s home and work environments. The data stored in these smart objects such as audio messages, videos, texts etc., can be used as evidences in mediation and litigation cases.

Another aspect of technology which has been increasing is the use of AI. AI has been found to treat women and people of colour unfairly due to limitations in data sets behind the AI’s algorithm. Lawyers in this field, need to understand the nuances of AI and how there may be potential biases embedded in their underlying structure.

Along with other technologies, laws surrounding drones and their operations change rapidly, as they overlap with IP, safety and privacy issues. Each state has different laws on drones, but a few universal ones, include that a drone should always be in the line of sight of the operator and drone registration requirements. Lawyers need to understand different drone laws at both the federal and state level while keeping up with any potential changes.

  • Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes ethereal creations of the human intellect. For instance, copyrights, patents trademarks and trade secrets. Intellectual property cases are meant to be complex and challenging depending on the parties involved. For example, you can consider the non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have taken this complexity to the next level.

NFTs are classified as a unit of data, based on block chain technology that’s to record and track transactions and ownership of data. When a copyright owner sells their intellectual property to a third partner, the original owner doesn’t benefit from the increased valuation of that property. However, with NFTs, specific programs allow the original owner to continually benefit as the intellectual property is resold.

As of now, there are no regulations surrounding NFTs. But as they run counter to current IP laws (with ownership, in particular, being a flexible term), lawyers need to better equip themselves with knowledge of how NFTs are sold, bought, and transferred.

  • Labor law sheds lights on the concerns and responsibilities surrounding the unionized employees. Unionized employees are said to have more power as compared to an individual. These unions can raise their opinions on salaries, working hours of the employee, and the workplace’s environment. One of the major attributes of labor laws is, it is set by both the federal and state government. However, all state-level regulations must comply with the federal-wide National Labor Relations Act.

With the onset of The Great American Labor Shortage, the demand for labor laws is continuously growing. With 9.3 million job vacancies in USA, employees are urging government to provide better pay, healthier working environments, and employee protections.

  • Elder law attorneys, as the name suggests, are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Such attorneys usually handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, social security, and other essential matters.

Elders law attorneys can often be categorized as “specialists”, because their focus is not only on the important financial and estate planning matters, but also day-today issues affecting the actual care of seniors, such as assisted living and life planning. Their challenges include, handling the emotional and physical needs of older and disabled adults.

  • Laws dealing with the regulations around sustainability, air and water quality, hazardous wastes, agriculture and biodiversity, comprise the environment law.

Climate change has highlighted the need for an urgent action on sustainable development and environmental protection. Hence, in this field of law, lawyers need to act as advisors, compliance consultants, policy analysts, risk assessors and plaintiffs in court.

  • Health law, which is another emerging area of law, is associated with the operation, provision and delivery of health care services. Lawyers who work in health law, advocate for high-quality patient care, promote better access to care, work to reduce healthcare costs and protect consumers as they look for insurance and other types of coverage. The pandemic has been one of the reasons to cause a surge in demand for health laws. With special importance being paid, towards health and hygiene, more people are seeking legal advice and guidance on obtaining more affordable and accessible healthcare.

  • Cannabis law involves navigating changing policies around the legalization of marijuana. This area of law is nuanced and requires a thorough understanding of policy timelines. In the US marijuana was federally decriminalized in December 2020, and is currently legal in 18 states. But the federal law still classifies it as an illegal substance. With bills being drafted in this context, the aim of the congress is to legalize marijuana across the country while at the same time establishing federal protections for financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses. As more businesses receive licenses to sell cannabis, more patients will get better access to medicinal marijuana. Also, other federally regulated bodies will provide more financial services such as loans and insurance to cannabis-related businesses.

  • The legal practice in the energy industry revolves around economic, scientific and engineering issues in a regulatory context. This area of law is complex. Most energy lawyers act as in-house counsel for corporations to help clients stay compliant with current energy laws and regulations. They also often help with litigation and formal hearings if compliance issues arise with agreements relating to energy harvesting, production, and use. Climate change policies directly affect this emerging area of law. The demand for energy lawyers will continue to surge as innovations in alternative energy continue to move forward.


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