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Following the trends in many industries is really easy; the legal sector?  Not so much.  It’s always been a fickle area that has resisted the forces of traditional markers.  What appears to be a new trend one year can quickly be forgotten by the time the new year rolls around.  Much of it has to do with current events.  Embezzlers are discovered, terrorism plots are found and public officials are discovering that a taboo video tape that places them in compromising positions is rarely ever kept a secret.  Still, aside from the occasional scandal or two, there are other indicators that tell the tale of the legal world as a whole.  A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and president of, says there are several changes occurring simultaneously within contemporary law.

“It’s no secret that class action lawsuits are on the rise and have been for several years”, says Barnes.  “From drugs that have serious medical consequences to the Gulf of Mexico crisis to the recall of cars, baby strollers and cold medicine, these class action suits are increasing fast as consumers and victims say they’ve had enough”.  Bring tort reform into the mix and a rapidly changing landscape becomes clear.

Finance and accounting is also a fast moving specialty.  Even though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002, it is still causing headaches as businesses continue to make the transition amidst these restrictions.  State regulations and technology both go hand in hand with accounting issues and not surprisingly, there are many who are still not sure what that legislation was meant to resolve.

The founder says he’s noticed over the past few years that clients are seeing their legal representation as a one stop source for business advice as well as legal guidance.  “It makes sense to a point; the legalities are the business, however, there’s no replacing an experienced accountant”.  On the other hand, it also lends to the mindset of businesses as it’s clear they have a very definitive trust and faith in their lawyers and the advice they receive.  New associates who are just beginning their legal careers are more familiar, in some ways, than the seasoned pros just because they were afforded the in-depth analysis, via their course load, in more recent years.

Recently, the issue of pro bono work came up.  Specifically, the question of whether or not a certain commitment of time should be made mandatory.  Some say this would lessen the ethical value that law firms benefit from.  Making it mandatory goes against the spirit of pro bono work.  While it’s not likely this will become a big issue in the near future, there are some who say it’s only a matter of time before legal pro bono cases are mandated.

Finally, the collective law sector has recently sought out ways that would make legal services more affordable and consistent for those who may not be able to pay for quality representation. Legal plans allow clients to sign up for any number of “packages” a firm offers.  Many began this as a way to attract more business clients, but it’s proven successful and now, the goal is to successfully parlay it into a solution for individuals.  A small monthly fee, reduced legal rates when an attorney is needed and no high retainers are part of the attraction.

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