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UB Voices by CBIZ MHM
In our annual Legal roundtable, industry veterans discuss trends in billing for traditional clients—is the billable hour going to be a thing of the past? They also talk about efforts to make legal services affordable for modest-income clients, the quality of new law school grads, and their firms’ efforts to accommodate Millennials’ desire for work-life balance.
We’d like to thank Jim D. Gilson, president of the Utah State Bar, for moderating the discussion.
What areas of the law do you see as being a growing trend in terms of types of clients or types of cases?
YOUNG: Utah is really a hotbed for technology companies. So it’s not just intellectual property—these types of companies need the full suite of services. We’re seeing as much of an industry growth as we are for a particular type of law.
WILLIAMS: We’ve seen a very dramatic growth in intellectual property, mostly patent prosecutions. It’s really changed.
CLINGER: One of my main practice areas is auto dealership law, representing the third-largest dealership group in the state. We’ve seen growth in auto dealership law, which involves large real estate transactions, construction and large commercial lending. We’ve also seen major changes within auto dealership law.
ANDERSON: We’ve had an exponential growth in fighting federal regulatory agencies. I’ve been involved in three or four cases in the last couple years that have gone to the D.C. Circuit. We’ve got one coming up in a couple weeks, just fighting what I would call federal regulatory overreach. My practice tends to be related to utilities and mining, but it’s happening through all branches of the federal government.
POS: Just adding to that, what we’re seeing is the process is much slower because of the budget cuts at the federal level. What would take several months is now taking many, many months to get through the process. It’s even more frustrating because of the higher scrutiny, but also the time it takes and the costs of that process.
SILVESTRINI: There’s lots of stuff going on with mergers and acquisitions. But actually, that touches on the Affordable Care Act and the implementation of electronic medical records. We’re seeing a lot of activity in medical practice consolidation—mergers and acquisitions—and changes in healthcare providers in trying to adapt to the federal regulations that are affecting them with respect to medical records and more red tape.
REYES: I would just highlight this one area, because it continues to grow, and that is issues related to senior elder care. We look at a lot of issues with regard to protecting that demographic, whether that is white-collar fraud or other crimes. We have a new white-collar crime registry bill that the governor signed. Those types of things help educate and empower the more vulnerable segments of the community.
BARKER: We’ve seen a big boom in the estate planning area. I guess it’s the aging baby boomers. We’ve had to hire a few associates just to keep up with that. And our real estate guys have lots of work now; they’re very, very busy.
ALDER: I’ll add one more topic to the discussion: cyber security. We’re advising clients a lot now on risks, their liability and protection.
And sadly, we’re doing a little bit more professional liability defense work than perhaps this group would like to see. But that has picked up, and for other professions as well. The litigation climate is robust, and advising clients to avoid litigation is one of our main focuses.