It might surprise you to know that focusing on a specific area of law, rather than being a generalist, may be the smarter, more profitable way to go. According to the 2017 BCG Attorney Search’s State of the Market Report, niche practices are on the rise.
What is it? So what does it mean to have a niche practice? In short, it’s a focused practice that is marketed to a discrete segment of the legal market, says Jeramie Fortenberry. “Some niche practices focus on practice areas, such as bankruptcy or personal injury law. Others focus on demographics, such as age, gender, [or] occupation.” Others combine both—“immigration law for athletes or estate planning for high-net-worth individuals.”
How to pick what’s best for you. First, understand your work style. If you are more introverted, something more transactional such as tax might be a better fit. If you are outgoing, something more people-oriented would be better. Answering these 10 questions, ranging from whether you like to deal with people or with things to whether you want your schedule to be predictable, can help guide you to the practice areas that are right for you.
So what are the hot areas for 2017? According to Aebra Coe , Teresa Lo, and William Vogeler, these are the practice areas that are full of opportunity:
ERISA/Executive compensation—This practice area’s 2016 rise will continue into 2017, especially with the new administration and the need for compliance with changing regulations. Further, this is an area of law that continues to be plaintiff friendly, reports Joe Faucher.
Cybersecurity/Privacy—Hackings are a daily occurrence, so the need for experienced attorneys in this area continues to increase. In particular, financial services cybersecurity regulations and law firm cybersecurity are two areas where growth is predicted.
Health care—Health systems and insurance companies alike will be looking for experienced practitioners to help navigate changes to the health care landscape.
Craft beer and spirits—As this industry continues to grow, so will the need for attorneys to advise on licensing, risk management, and small business formation.
Cannabis—The trend is moving toward the legalization of marijuana. Even large law firms are trying to capitalize on this emerging industry. Dykema has a relatively new Cannabis Law practice group, which handles everything from licensing and regulatory compliance to financial transactions and taxation. ICLE also has a recent on-demand seminar on this topic.
Practice areas to avoid in 2017? Finally, see this list for practice areas, including IP litigation and telecommunications, that are not likely to see growth or are on the decline.