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Industry Outlook: What’s Top of Mind for Attorneys

Industry Outlook: What’s Top of Mind for Attorneys
by lowndes

June 22, 2018

The Orlando Business Journal

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Nearly 20 managing partners and shareholders gathered at Orlando Business Journal’s 2018 Law Industry Outlook on June 4 to discuss hot trends, building workforces and what’s happening with state and federal regulations.

Here’s what they shared:

On busy law sectors:

“We’re seeing a lot more growth in real estate. Real estate not only picked up on the actual ‘dirt side,’ as we call it, but litigation, too, as we go into things related to construction and development issues. It has been nice because it shows those areas are back up and running again after the recession. I also think an area that has seen large growth is our tax department.” – Nichole Mooney, partner, Dean Mead

“Personal injury defense work has continued to increase. A lot of people seem to think that when the economy is bad, you see more of that. But it’s been our experience that it really has not been impacted by the economy improving.” – Scott Shelton, managing partner, Cole, Scott & Kissane PA

“We’re seeing a lot of P3s — public/private partnerships. I represent governments around the country, and they are running out of funds. They’re starting to become more business-like in terms of trying to [structure] their projects to show some revenue. What they are trying to do now is bring private parties into the action to fund some of the things they want to do.” – Jéan Wilson, co-managing shareholder, Greenberg Traurig PA

“General litigation is busier this year. Construction litigation is very strong, as well as health care. – Glenn Adams, executive partner, Holland & Knight LLP

“The real estate development sector is incredibly busy. Entitlement and impact fees — a lot of those things are changing, and we’re trying to stay on top of that.” – Daniel McIntosh, partner, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA

On counseling clients:

“I strongly advise them to get information-technology audits. One of the issues we have is the younger attorneys we bring in must be tech savvy to ask the right questions, give advice and speak with IT folks to get the right answers. I used to think I was OK if I had a firewall. But with general data protection regulation coming in, people need to be proactive and they can’t wait for a breach to decide what to do.” – Brian Gilchrist, managing partner, Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist PA

On legal trends:

“Cybersecurity is probably the No. 1 growing practice in our firm, and we just did a seminar locally about it.” – James Etscorn, partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

“General data protection regulation. The regulation was supposed to take effect on May 25, so clients dealing with any European Union companies should be compliant. If they aren’t, they could face penalties. Cryptocurrency also has become a big issue, and a lot of questions come up.” – Brian Gilchrist, managing partner, Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist PA

“Medical marijuana is a big part of our practice, believe it or not. It is one of the fastest-growing things in the country.” – Daniel McIntosh, partner, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA

“We are doing a lot of solar work. We have a lot of agricultural clients, and we’re trying to get ahead of the market in terms of helping those clients figure out what they can do with some of their space, and if they can put up solar energy fields to get tax credits.” – Nichole Mooney, partner, Dean Mead

On legislation:

“Going on the ballot in November is the super homestead exemption. Florida voters will have to decide whether or not we go up by $25,000 on our homestead exemption. That would bring it up all the way to a $75,000 exemption, which is a huge deal for local governments. Early estimates show that will be a $600 million reduction in government revenue if that passes.” – Rachael Crews, shareholder, GrayRobinson PA

“Legislators are trying to raise impact fees, which is having a huge effect on residential development that will be passed on to homebuyers.” – Daniel McIntosh, partner, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA

“Everybody is nervous about the tax law, but our manufacturing and retail clients are very concerned about what the increase on steel and other products is going to mean for them. Everybody wants more jobs, but we don’t really have the steel manufacturing infrastructure here that we once did, so everyone is a little concerned about where they’re going to get their raw product.” – Deborah Moskowitz, shareholder, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer PA

On medical marijuana impacting business:

“Even if the regulatory side calms down and we figure out what is happening here, businesses are worrying about how they will be taxed and what to do with it on the federal side. Employers are worried about how the drug policy will affect them, if they should believe any prescription that comes in and what does it mean if they have commercial drivers that have prescriptions. There’s a lot of related issues on the medical marijuana side that I don’t think we know the answers to yet.” – Nichole Mooney, partner, Dean Mead

On staffing up:

“We’ve grown significantly in Orlando in the last two years. But this year, we will grow at a slower a pace because of the lawyers we now have. We’ve gone from 18 to 66 lawyers in four years, and I think by the end of this year, we will have around 74. That speaks to the metropolitan area. There’s an explosion of growth here, and the need for legal services ties into the economy.” – Scott Shelton, managing partner, Cole, Scott & Kissane PA

“Our biggest change, undoubtedly, is we merged with the Gardere law firm in Texas in April. That added a couple of hundred [lawyers] into a market we previously weren’t in.” – Kevin Reck, partner, Foley & Lardner LLP

“We just opened our 21st office in New Jersey, and we’re adding another 10 or 12 lawyers to Orlando before the end of the year.” – Deborah Moskowitz, shareholder, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer PA