Jack Olender's Top Ten Legal Predictions for 2009
Washington Malpractice lawyer Jack Olender1 presents his top ten legal predictions. Over the years, his predictions have an at least 90 percent success rate. Recession-related phenomena dominate this year's legal predictions.
1. Blago will go.
Embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will leave office either after his upcoming impeachment by the Illinois legislature or even before the actual impeachment vote when he begins to read the writing on the wall that shows he will lose the impeachment vote. It is even odds that at some point in the process, he is likely to cop a plea to the "pay to play" federal charges against him.
2. Torture and Kangaroo courts out.
The United States will make great strides to return to the rule of law regarding terrorists, acceptable interrogation techniques, and the right to counsel.
3. Tort "deform" out; civil justice in.
Plaintiffs' trial lawyers and their injured clients breathe a sigh of relief because more federal legislation and regulations emasculating the right to sue for compensation for injury are unlikely for the foreseeable future. Federal tort "deform" (so-called "reform") is essentially dead.
4. Women join elite of trial bar.
More women will join the ranks of the elite in trial law. When I was elected to the Inner Circle of Advocates in 1976, there were no women in the 100-member Inner Circle. Today, women number seven and the number will increase each year out. In 1972, there was one woman in the then 2,358-member American College of Trial Lawyers. When I was inducted into the College in 1986, I don't specifically recall any women in the class of new fellows. There will be more women tapped for both elite groups in 2009 and on out. Why? Because it generally takes two or three decades to achieve preeminence in the trial bar and women who now number over 50 percent of law grads and new lawyers are slowly coming into their own as leaders. And both the Inner Circle and the American College now actively seek diversity, including women lawyers. Welcome to the clubs, ladies.
5. Regulatory law is back.
More work for regulatory lawyers because the Obama Administration and Democratic Congress will reverse the current deregulation of business and start enforcing strict safety standards.
6. Centrist judges for federal courts.
Appointments to federal courts will take a swing to the left with more centrist judges being appointed and confirmed. Civil rights will be in fashion again.
7. Some legal jobs up, some down, as result of recession.
Jobs for lawyers in transactional practice (real estate deals, mergers, acquisitions, contracts) will go down, and bankruptcy law and foreclosure work will go up. Some staff positions in law firms will disappear and more work will be outsourced to foreign countries or more depressed areas of United States.
8. Starting salaries, bonuses flat or worse.
Starting salaries and sign-up bonuses for new lawyers will not escalate for the first time this millennium. To the contrary, more law graduates will have a tough time finding legal positions and some presently employed lawyers will be riffed, thanks to the recession.
9. Fewer dollars for public interest lawyers.
Jobs in public interest law and public defender offices will shrink with less funds available from philanthropists and government because of the recession.
10. Escape financial responsibility for harm by bankruptcy, etc.
More wrongdoer defendants will not be made to pay for the harm they cause innocent plaintiffs in personal injury cases, malpractice cases, breach of contract cases, discrimination and harassment cases, etc., because they and their insurance companies are impecunious or bankrupt from the recession and related events.
Mediators in; trial lawyers out?
Since more and more legal cases including divorce, malpractice, personal injury, etc. are being successfully mediated and resolved without a trial; don't look for the ranks of experienced trial lawyers to swell in 2009. Mediators and lawyers who know how to mediate rule!