As 2020 comes to a close, law firms are anxiously trying to strategize for the coming year. The legal industry will continue to be dominated by issues brought on by the pandemic, the election, and uncertainty in the economy. Here are some practice areas where legal experts predict growth in 2021 and beyond:
Labor and Employment
Employment litigation has seen an uptick in business since the early days of the pandemic. At the outset, attorneys saw an influx of work from companies forced to implement layoffs, pay cuts, and furloughs. As the year wore on, there was an increase in lawsuits and class actions stemming from violations related to the coronavirus. Demand also grew from clients that needed counseling on compliance and new employment policies. As the end of the pandemic is in sight, a lot of work has shifted to advising clients on reopening their businesses and offices.
Complex Commercial Litigation
Contracts across all industries were affected when the economy ground to a near stop. Events, orders, projects, and sales were postponed or canceled. Every cancellation in the chain impacted other contracts, causing a domino-effect of defaults. Predictably, lawsuits, and countersuits quickly followed. The more entities involved, the more complex the case. Attorneys and support staff specializing in complex commercial litigation are needed to handle the unprecedented, intricate matters that businesses now face.
Commercial Real Estate
COVID-19 sent shockwaves through commercial real estate markets. State orders forced many businesses to close, which required white-collar workers to begin working at home. Office buildings, retail centers, hotels, and industrial parks felt the pinch when tenants lost revenue streams and could not pay their rent. Landlord-tenant disputes and real estate litigation continue to keep attorneys busy. Legal expertise is also sought by companies that are renegotiating, downsizing, or renewing leases.
According to the Southern District of Texas bankruptcy court, Houston is one of the busiest Chapter 11 bankruptcy courts in the country. The first half of 2020 saw more Texas corporations file for bankruptcy than in any six-month period in the state’s history. Every sector is affected, from energy to retail to airlines. Business analysts predict the tidal wave of bankruptcies and restructurings will continue throughout most of 2021. Bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers representing debtors, creditors, equity interest holders, and other entities have their work cut out for them.
When a crisis hits, companies turn to their insurance policies for support. Insurance attorneys review the claims and insurance contracts, then advise whether there is coverage for the event. Litigation is often initiated when the coverage can’t be resolved. Insurance attorneys have also seen increased work from business owners that want to review their insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage for pandemic-related claims. Insurance litigation surrounding COVID-19 claims will be impacted by state and federal legislative efforts and decisions.
Houston is home to the world’s largest medical center and boasts a dynamic healthcare industry. Healthcare attorneys represent clients in all industry segments, including hospitals, institutional providers, physicians, research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and device manufacturers. The Post-Covid healthcare landscape, coupled with a new presidential administration, promises to bring significant changes that will generate considerable work for law firms and in-house counsel.
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