Feb. 9, 2015 – Are you positioned to turn pressures on the legal profession into opportunities for growth? In the Wisconsin Lawyer’s “Annual Practice Trends 2015: What’s Hot, What’s Not,” learn what practice areas are trending hot, hotter, and red hot, nationally, regionally, and locally. It’s Robert Denney’s annual report on what’s happening in the legal profession, including trends on firm management and business development.
In “National and Global Practice Trends 2015,” author Robert Denney notes hot practice areas and geographic markets, as well as law school trends and other issues affecting lawyers. Attorney Larry Bodine adds insight on big changes for law firm marketing.
And in “Wisconsin Practice Trends 2015,” Wisconsin and regional lawyers and consultants provide a local perspective on trends that typically begin in the major business centers on the coasts before working their way to the Midwest.
Also, don’t miss attorney Michael Moore’s article, “Profit is not a Four-letter Word: Lawyering in the New Age.” In it, Moore identifies sweeping changes that continue to affect law firm success, including new business models, consumer access to technology, Internet marketing, and alternative fee arrangements, to name a few.
Rather than resist change, Moore says law firms will stay profitable by embracing new tools and technologies, adapting to major market disruptions, and understanding price competition. Moore, a professional coach for lawyers, dives deep into the cause and effect of law firm profitability, noting strategies for success in 2015 and beyond.
National and Global Practice Trends
Denney, who provides strategic management and marketing counsel to law firms, believes intellectual property, federal false claims, and labor and employment will be red hot practice areas in 2015. Other hot practice areas include anticorruption, environmental, energy, health care, and white collar crime. Elder law, too.
Denney says firms should pay attention to cybersecurity issues and project management technology, as well as new trends in the business development arena.
“Some firms are hiring content specialists to provide material that is relevant to clients’ industries and to ensure that it is reaching the correct audiences,” Denney notes.
Despite an increasing oversupply of lawyers, increasingly demanding clients, and more competition, Denney is confident the legal profession can thrive. “The accounting profession addressed the need to change, did change, and has survived, stronger and more profitable than ever,” he writes. “The legal profession can do the same.”
Wisconsin Practice Trends
Writer Dianne Molvig spoke with attorneys and practice management experts who weighed in on practice and marketing trends in the Dairy State. Watch for more activity in the labor and employment area, especially in wage-and-hour claims and white-collar exemptions. Land use, water quality, health care, and data security will remain hot.
Many of the national and global trends and issues on marketing, business development, and practice management are impacting Wisconsin lawyers too. “Data breaches are an enormous problem,” said attorney Barbara Zabawa, who notes that lawyers will be called up to help prevent such data breaches and mitigate damage when it occurs.
Good news for smaller and mid-sized firms. They’ll stay competitive with bigger firms through lower rates and individualized attention. And trends like “law firm networks” can expand the reach of smaller firms who join these referral-based groups.
Recent law school graduates will see only slight improvements to entry-level hiring, but job prospects are heating up for lawyers with two or three years’ experience.
Columns and Insights
101 column: Douglas Abrams provides “10 Tips for Effective Brief Writing,” drawing on insight from judges to improve submissions to trial or appellate courts. Tip No. 9 – “leave the venom at home.” Judges want you to persuade, not bicker with the opponent.
As I See It column: In “Does the Bar Exam Ensure Knowledge of Wisconsin Law?” attorney Michael Lococo says the Wisconsin bar exams burdens test-takers financially and professionally while failing to fulfill its goals of ensuring knowledge of Wisconsin law. “The bar exam in Wisconsin should be eliminated entirely,” he writes.
Ethic column: In “Threat to File Complaint Does Not Automatically Require Withdrawal,” State Bar Professional Ethics Committee Chair Dean Dietrich says ethics rules don’t require automatic withdrawal if a client threatens an OLR complaint. But a lawyer may want to consider “business factors” when deciding whether to withdraw.
Solutions column: Marketing consultant John Remsen Jr. provides “10 Golden Rules to Make New Clients Happy,” ensuring new clients become permanent customers.
Managing Risk column: How’s your New Year’s resolution going? Tom Watson, vice president at Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, says lawyers should “Resolve to Reduce Malpractice Risk in 2015,” and provides tips to make it happen.
Technology column: In “Social Media: ‘Facebook at Work’ May Promote Productivity,” State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tison Rhine explains how a new social media platform could be your law firm’s newest productivity tool, rather than a time waster.
Final Thought column: In “Disruptive Innovation: Practicing in Interesting Times,” State Bar Pro Bono Coordinator Jeff Brown discusses the risks and opportunities of allowing nonlawyers to deliver legal services to people of low or modest means.