Thinking about the careers in law available after law school while you’re still a slave to LSAT preparation might seem a little preemptive, but taking the long view of your working options is an excellent strategy in today’s economy. With that in mind, The National Jurist, a magazine for law students (get those subscriptions now, folks), has released its list of the hottest law fields in the upcoming years. For young lawyers looking for a way to break into an excellent practice opportunity, this kind of research is incredibly important– especially if you’re paying attention to the way many law schools are opening up specialized fields with specific centers for study. Here’s the breakdown of the red hot areas of law practice:
1. Health Care Law
This should come as no surprise to eager followers of this blog– we have reported before about the sharp increase in health care law needs because of the transition to the Affordable Care Act system. We also have a couple of other factors that are on the rise that have lead to health care law’s place on the top of the heap, especially our aging population. All those baby boomers are getting older, which means additional avenues for advocacy and litigation, in addition to those opening up through Obamacare. One trend to pay attention to: states like Arizona and Florida that have a higher percentage of elderly citizens, are a great place to look for job opportunities in the field.
2. Administrative Law
Administrative law is also a rapidly growing field, ripe for ambitious new lawyers. It may not sound exciting, but it is definitely an important career field. Annual administrations through social security disability, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits are all on the rise, once again due to the overall aging of the American population as well as the large number of veterans leaving the service after serving in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to the 8 million Vietnam veterans that still draw benefits. The laws and restrictions surrounding those benefits are often difficult to parse out to the untrained, which is where you can come in– and make a big difference.
3. Intellectual Property Law
One of the few fields in any occupation that showed growth during the recession, intellectual property law is something every major corporation has their eyes on– 80% of corporate assets now are intellectual property, mostly in the form of patents. Research institutions and universities also have a heavy interest in this kind of law, and (luckily for all you future lawyers) they all need help. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act was recently passed into law, which changed who can apply for a patent– the biggest change to intellectual property law in fifty years.
4. Family Law
You might be surprised to see something like family law on this list, but like the previous items, the political and social winds of change have affected the law here as well. In addition to prenuptial agreements, custody arrangments, and family trusts (the bread and butter of family law), many states have passed more inclusive marriage laws– gay marriage legalization means more marriages, which means more work for family lawyers.
Just these four areas are worth a second look, but the National Jurist has provided a much larger list of ranked practice fields for your use. Check out the full list here, then start digging into the ones you are the most interested in! What schools offer special programs or classes that will help you get an edge? What areas of the country make sense for that kind of practice? Law school is all about opening doors, and educating yourself in advance about what doors are easiest to open will put you ahead of the competition!