The two red-hot practices right now are cybersecurity and data privacy, and media and technology, according to BTI’s 2015 Legal Market Outlook, a webinar presented today by The BTI Consulting Group. These "priority practices" are producing numerous files and command premium rates from corporate clients.
- "Cybersecuritry and data privacy are the closest thing to a boom practice," said BTI President Michael Rynowecer. Corporations are spending $1 billion per year for legal services in this area -- see Internet Security Breaches Have Erupted -- and their spending is growing at 8-9% per year.
- Media and technology involves digital rights in content and advertising. Corporations are spending $600 million per year in this are, according to Rynowecer. "We're seeing a lot of growth and interest as companies look for boundaries where media content an advertising converge, and they are looking for infringement protection."
According to the chart "The 2015 Legal Market Outlook," the place to invest are practices shown in the top right corner of the chart. The bigger the circle, the more the spending in that practice. Any practice below the line is shrinking, and anything to the right will encounter less price pressure.
Low-growth, low-fee practices include real estate, employment and environmental law.
Other hot practices
- Mergers and acquisitions: especially involving private companies.
- IP litigation: "still has legs to it."
- Class Actions: plaintiffs have become more aggressive in bringing cases.
- Regulatory: there is no shortage of regulations, especially the Affordable Care Act.
Hot industries: the "opportunity zone" for law firms includes corporations in industries health care, high tech industry, food and agriculture. The spending is much higher than organizations in other industries.
In a shift, the volume of litigation matters is up, but spending on law firms is down. This is because corporations are trying to spend less on litigation in general, preferring to settle early and avoid even a short trial, according to Rynowecer. "The challenge for law firms is to show that you are ready to settle and can triage matters," he said. "Clients consider settling first the first option."
Rynowecer offered three points of business development advice:
- Find the partners who will introduce one new partner in a practice meaningful to your top 25 clients. Reward and over-celebrate these achievements.
- Craft a customized package of your firm's services to offer – from a single point of contact -- for global companies based outside the US.
- Allocate 30% of your business development budget to no more than two growth opportunities and kill the pursuit of other less attractive opportunities.