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Seeking insight into the new normal - the attorney

Updated: Jun 23

“There are riches in niches” John Morgan, Esq.

In confusion, fear and disarray, people need advice and assistance. Some attorneys and firms will prosper and even thrive while a number will see work and revenues shrink. Where will you be?

Business lawyers will likely have less regular work but will see far more bankruptcies and reorganizations. Labor work will include a host of new standards and requirements for navigating through layoffs, furloughs, wage and hour, overtime and workplace standards. OHSA knowledge as well. Some firms who have seized upon this and developed COVID-19 task forces have done well getting ahead of the curve. West Virginia-based regional firm Spillman Thomas is one providing webinars and regular emailing to clients and friends of the firm.

Business interruption claims in the insurance arena will likely be the source of much new litigation. Again, firms and attorneys who select such a niche to become quickly educated in through CLE should also have a contemporaneous targeted digital marketing plan. This is where we at www.AHMdigital.com can help astute lawyers gather quality clients.

We also see traditional medical malpractice cases falling even more so. After the so-called tort reforms in West Virginia over the past 15 years or so, especially within the past decade, the number of cases brought has dwindled to next to nothing. Those firms with large medical malpractice defense practices have in many cases had layoffs and reassignments as that work has shrunk. On the plaintiff side it is similar -- too few legitimate cases are worth the time, effort and expense when the artificially low (by legislative action) liability caps are in place and have been upheld.

Nursing home litigation has proven to be an interesting niche. Our founder carved out the largest plaintiffs’ practice in West Virginia over the past 15 years, culminating when he sold his law firm www.belllaw.com in 2017,. The instances of negligent care in the for-profit nursing home industry has been astonishing -- and not in a good way. Seizing upon this unique niche and developing a solid team in-house to address these claims, all legitimate and certified before any suit was ever brought, ensured this niche of legal practice to be quite successful. The industry has responded not with care improvements in West Virginia homes but instead with shortened liability statutes of limitations and further reductions in liability caps. In essence the industry has made paying death and non-death legitimate claims a minor line item cost of doing business in this lucrative for-profit industry.

Major questions now exist in this area as well as restaurant and production line environments as to the push by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to give blanket immunities to these for-profit entities. It’s a major erosion of constitutional rights that gives all lawyers pause, as it should the public. Once taken away, they are unlikely to return. Entire firms, plaintiff and defense, may see their practice areas gone, just as the rights of those to have matters heard in our courts. Be wary.

The automobile accident sector will be hammered as we see far fewer transportation-related claims, though likely it will pick up post-pandemic as stay-at-home orders are lifted as well as ignored by the populace. A major reduction in claims originating in 2020 will have ongoing ramifications.

While immigration has been brought to a screeching halt, we also see increased levels of interest and demand for immigration work as restrictions are eased. This will potentially be very lucrative for attorneys working in this area dealing with medical, scientific and perhaps even student visas.

As always, being prepared and executing the necessary pivots and planning require a disciplined yet flexible commitment to not only the areas of practice where services are needed but also a willingness to invest the capital into appropriate and targeted digital and related campaigns. This is what we do every day at www.ahmdigital.com.

Please reach out to start the discussion on how we may help your practice. And don’t wait.



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