Each year, FindLaw.com asks its in-house legal team for predictions on the big legal issues for the up-coming year. This year, we considered the issues that legal consumers and professionals have asked about, read about and searched for, all year long. Here then, in descending order, is this year's FindLaw Top Ten List of Hot Legal Topics for 2011.
10. Immigration: In 2010, the passage of Arizona's SB 1070 heated up the debate over illegal immigration. Next year will continue to be a time of discussion about immigration, with President Obama is still pressing for the passage of the Dream Act, the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court on in-state tuition for illegal aliens and SB 1070 itself still in the courts.
9. Facebook/Online Privacy: Constant lawsuits regarding privacy, Facebook, and other online sites punctuated 2010. A recent ruling over Fourth Amendment protections for email by the 6th Circuit, combined with issues of cyberbullying, privacy settings and new concerns over online tracking will ensure Facebook and the other drivers of the intersection between cyber-law and privacy will continue to be a source of legal debate for the year to come, and beyond.
8. Mortgages/Foreclosures: Several states Attorneys General have cases still in court against mortgage service providers for robo-signing and other shoddy paper-work practices. 2011 will be another year in which consumers watch the American Dream struggle back from the implosion of the real estate market.
7. Divorce/Child Custody: The economy and new technology affect every part of American life, including family law. More often, parents are considering modifying support agreements if they lose their jobs. Further, innovations like virtual visitation (also spurred by family moves due to job loss) are changing the way courts look at support and visitation issues.
6. TSA Security Concerns: There was an uproar in 2010 over the new enhanced security procedures at airports across the country. Far from fading away with the settlement of the pilots' suit against the TSA over the full body scans, FindLaw predicts more suits and more debate in the year to come as we consider the Fourth Amendment implications of the enhanced search techniques.
5. Gay Rights: Same Sex Marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The courts will hand down new decisions on California's ban on same sex marriage in 2011 and don't ask don't has finally seen a resolution which will require implementation in 2011.
4. Bullying/Cyberbullying: In 2010, we came to understand the true cost our kids pay when they are bullied. Hopefully, 2011 will be the year more lawmakers, parents and kids themselves learn lessons from Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown and many, many others, and make both physical and online bullying a thing of the past.
3. Healthcare: With an incoming Republican House majority, questions over changes in health benefits by employers in response to the law and one ruling for, and one against the Reform Act in the courts, healthcare will be on the minds and in the budgets of individuals through 2011 and for several years to come.
2. Taxes: Even with the Bush-era tax cut compromise complete, there will still be more changes in the tax law in 2011. Small business and individuals alike will be watching to see what happens to the estate tax, Social Security taxes and business taxes in 2011.
1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: The struggling job market effects so many of the other legal issues we predict will be big in 2011, from foreclosures, to healthcare, from support agreements to immigration, that the ripple effects of jobless recovery are likely to continue. And continue. And we hope, might just end in 2011.
A Happy New Year from the team at FindLaw.