In 2018, experts suggest we keep our eyes peeled for the marriage of law and tech. It’s coming in many forms: Think lawyers addressing cybersecurity issues, law firms delving into AI and incorporating programs that try to predict the outcomes of legal disputes.
Joseph T. Boccassini
Managing partner, McCarter & English
The legal profession, like many other industries, has experienced considerable change as a result of advancements in technology and globalization. Those changes have brought great efficiencies to the practice of law, but they have also brought significant competition to law firms. And so we must all adapt, because even in the face of relatively flat demand for legal services, there are tremendous opportunities for firms that stay ahead of the curve, as we continue to do, coming off a second consecutive record-breaking year.
Intellectual property, particularly in patents, continues to be an integral part of the statewide economy, and we expect that the growth we’ve seen in IP legal work will continue and possibly increase. The macroeconomics of any geographic market drive the legal work, and trends in New Jersey’s economy suggest that patent work will remain robust.
We also see commercial real estate and venture capital as likely growth areas. The trend lines for the state’s tech- and tech-enabled economy are solidly upward, so firms like ours, whose clients include startups, entrepreneurs and the early stage investors that finance them, should continue to see increases in the demand for legal work as companies form, raise capital and engage in M&A activity.
Preventing, identifying and responding to data breaches are an enormous concern to businesses, so legal practices centered on cybersecurity should flourish. We also expect that owners of retail property will pursue property tax appeals as their retail tenants struggle and seek rent reductions.
As the state’s economy shifts, so too does the legal work that derives from it. On balance, firms like ours, which have educated themselves on the changes and demands in their clients’ industries, and staffed and trained appropriately, will continue to grow.