Year in Review: Which Practice Areas are growing? A quick 5-Year perspective

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2015 will mark five years since the legal industry began to show signs of life in 2010 after the recession. Data shows that most practice areas across the board have now crept back up to their pre-recession representation numbers. Of course Corporate and Litigation are the two reigning areas that saw the most action in this 5-year period, but a look at the lateral movement of all other practice areas reveals three areas enjoying tremendous growth: Intellectual Property, Real Estate and Labor & Employment.

Intellectual Property has been on the rise since 2010, and data indicates that this practice area is one that law firms are investing in across the country. In the year to date IP lateral hires have jumped by over a hundred since the previous year, and the 5-year trend reveals IP more than doubling since 2010.


2014 also saw an uptick in Partner laterals to Intellectual Property from years before, signaling again that this is an area with a future of expansion.



Each quarter of 2014 showed around 50 Intellectual Property Partner laterals, compared with an average of 30 each quarter in 2013.

Labor & Employment has enjoyed steady growth over the past 5 years. While perhaps not the rising star that Intellectual Property is, Labor & Employment looks to be an area that the shrewd multidisciplinary law firm should pay attention to.


Unsurprisingly, Real Estate has been the slowest to rebound, only recently climbing back up to the top tier of practice areas in the US. Of the three areas mentioned above, Real Estate has shown the most significant growth in 2014 as measured in lateral movement, with 603 Real Estate laterals occurring in 2014 to date.


Still, compared to 2010 when only 166 Real Estate attorneys were invested in by law firms as lateral hires, the slow but steady growth is something to be celebrated.

All data pulled from Firmscape, Leopard Solutions’ law firm intelligence program. For more information, click here.

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