Trends Influencing Client Demand for Legal Work

In our last post, we promised to explore some of the practices we believe will be in higher demand later this year.

Bankruptcy litigation and Restructuring. This may seem obvious.  Businesses will fail and will need to restructure. M&A lawyers who are prepared for the counter-cyclical nature of these two lines of business will pivot quickly. Lawyers with bankruptcy expertise in specific sectors will be busier. Expect increased demand in retail, hospitality, energy, entertainment, and real estate.

Insurance litigation. Is the pandemic covered by business insurance? Is COVID19 a force majeure? Policyholder and corporate insurance litigators will debate coverage issues for years to come. It has, as they say, a long tail.

Employment. Currently, we see client demand focused on employment counseling, regulatory advice, and health and safety rules.  In the world of BigLaw, these are not typically the most profitable part of an employment engagement. Litigation is. In the coming months, clients expect to hear from dissatisfied employees and former employees who dispute how they were treated.

Commercial litigation. Contracts have been broken. Businesses are suffering losses. Someone will need to be held accountable. Recipe for a lawsuit.

Real Estate. After organizations experience the efficiency and productivity associated with managing a remote workforce, how much downtown Class A office space will they really need? The standard 10-year commercial lease will no longer be standard. Real Estate deal lawyers and litigators will be busy. 

Real Estate 2.0. Two other trends are becoming clear and may signal legal issues. The normalization of remote work has the potential to influence, in a significant way, state-of-residency decisions for many professionals. It could also have the potential to extend the working careers for many professionals. Both trends have implications for employment and real estate engagements.

Our Message to Candidates: Take stock of your skills. Recast your experience as it relates to the new client demands. If you have been an M&A lawyer, describe your work in ways relatable to bankruptcy clients so they can recognize your talents. Reflect those nuances on your resume, LinkedIn profile, bio, in new narratives shared with colleagues and clients, and in your probono and volunteer work.

Our Message to Firm Leaders: Talk with your clients about their short-term and long-range anticipated needs. Assess your current talent. Be flexible in reviewing skills and offer training so your client service teams are ready. Fill talent gaps right away. Do not miss even one opportunity to serve a profitable client. You may have much ground to cover in the second half of 2020.

Other trends are influencing the demand in legal services.  We will explore them in our next blog post.

Ellen Musante