Certain practice areas are like a leather jacket: They never go out of style. Personal injury, estate planning, and criminal defense will always be there. But is there something more you could be doing?
As it turns out, there is. Changing technology, government policies, and legal environments mean that there are more opportunities than ever to expand your practice into new areas. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
1. Health Care.
If the Supreme Court lets the Affordable Care Act live to fight another day, businesses -- and even individuals -- are going to have a lot of questions about implementation and regulation. Does my business qualify for an exemption? How much is that penalty going to be next year? (As if health insurance weren't confusing enough already.) You can add value for existing clients, or gather new ones, by shepherding them through this morass.
Even though the House of Representatives wants to put the kibosh on President Obama's deferred action plans, it's not likely his executive orders are going away anytime soon. Children and families are going to need help getting through the immigration system, and you might be able to expand your practice. If you're in a state like California, or even a city like San Francisco, check with your local district attorney or courthouse to see if they're hiring court-appointed counsel for the immigrants.
As litigation gets more and more expensive, some clients want to forego it altogether in favor of mediation. You can expand your practice to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) relatively easily with some training (which might even be mandatory if you're going to hold yourself out as a mediator). One properly trained, you can look for court appointment opportunities to get experience.
4. Elder Law.
ABA Journal reported in June that as baby boomers age, there's a growing need for more lawyers to address the package of issues known as "elder law." Social Security disability, Medicare appeals, estate planning, and even veterans benefits all fall into this increasingly large field.
5. Wage and Hour Complaints.
Wage and hour lawsuits have jumped 432 percent over the last 20 years, The Huffington Post reported in May. Even though the recession is technically over, the lowest-paid workers still aren't in much of a position to complain when their employer does illegal things (like making them work off the clock or altering their timesheets to avoid paying overtime). With a more emboldened NLRB taking making such controversial moves as declaring McDonald's to be a joint employer with franchisees, workers are filing a lot more lawsuits.