preLaw - Fall 2016 - 15
Intellectual property (IP) is another hot
practice area. It's growing, and its practitioners are paid well.
"Business today is knowledge-based and
technology-focused, making the protection
of patents and trademarks a thriving practice area," the Robert Half Legal guide says.
PayScale reports lawyers in IP and patent law may be paid 11 percent above average, but another report suggests the bump
could be even bigger.
PracticePanther pinpoints IP law as the
top-paid practice area, with an average salary of $155,037.
"Dealing with patent, copyright and
trademark law, IP law is booming, with
new companies opening daily," the legalpractice-management software company
wrote in a blog post.
"If you have experience in IP, then
you're going to be in strong demand, espe-
Another area with lots of headlines?
More people than ever before have
access to health insurance. Since the
Affordable Care Act went into effect,
an estimated 20 million formerly uninsured people have received health insurance, according to the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
The industry is in the middle of enormous change. This includes the digitiza-
TATE COL L EGE
3. Intellectual Property
4. Health Law
tion of health records, billing for medical outcomes rather than procedures,
increased medical tourism and an overall
trend of consolidation and specialization,
especially because of rising overhead costs.
These changes are expected to create more
work for lawyers, particularly in areas of
fraud, insurance and antitrust litigation.
"The health care industry is expanding
and so is the need for related legal services," Robert Half Legal's report says.
Health law also includes work in several
In Robert Denney's 2015 report,
"What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal
Profession," health law remained a hot
area, and firms are moving toward forming industry groups that include multiple
practice groups. Health care includes at
least 15 areas, from finance and regulatory
law to labor and employment.
PayScale reported that attorneys in
health law could see a boost of 7 percent
over the median attorney pay.
Expect the changes in health care to
"There's not a lot of really experienced
practitioners, since it's in such flux and it's
developing," Fontaine said.
You've likely heard about all sorts of M&A
activity these days. That's mergers and
acquisitions, and that means business is
good if you're a corporate attorney.
Remember those raises to $180,000 for
first-year associates led by Cravath, Swaine
& Moore? They're being driven primarily
by large corporate deals.
In corporate law, attorneys also deal with
issuing securities and all the other transactions that come with business growth.
Corporate teams at law firms are growing, Robert Half Legal reports. There are
also more in-house legal jobs to handle the
everyday corporate issues, including regulations. (Compliance is another hot area to
PayScale's analysis found attorneys in
corporate, business and M&A law could
see a pay rate 8 percent higher than the
Of course, corporate law is an area with
high ups and downs.
"Corporate law is really at the mercy of
what's going on in the economy," Fontaine
said. "If there are no deals going on, then
attorneys aren't making a whole lot."
Keep your fingers crossed that business
"I wish we had a crystal ball," Volkert
said. "Anything can happen in the market."
2. Corporate Law
cially in a number of large metro areas,"
Volkert said, citing tech hubs such as
New York, D.C., Boston, Chicago, the
San Francisco Bay Area and Southern
It's a niche practice area, so a specialized background can be helpful in landing
a first job, and then in climbing the career
Becoming a patent attorney may require
a technical background, such as engineering, chemistry, biology, physics or computer science. Experience in advertising,
publishing or the music industry also could
be good background for copyright or trademark practice.
if it had been billed hourly. The firm ultimately received a reported $440 million.
"It's like rolling the dice, and you have
to be very careful what you take," Fontaine
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