For much of 2020, expect the legal industry to mirror 2019. Law firms will continue to invest in countercyclical practice areas as major events—namely, an anticipated economic downturn and the 2020 U.S. presidential election—loom in later months.

“We will likely see a continuation of what’s already started—firms stockpiling bankruptcy talent—which is related more to the assumption that a recession is coming,” says Joseph Altonji, a co-founding partner of consulting firm Law Vision Group. He says that as M&A and private equity practices cool off, there will be increased activity in the bankruptcy, restructuring, labor and employment and real estate spaces. These practice areas have already been attracting attention for some time; bankruptcy lateral moves in 2019 outpaced both 2017 and 2018, according to ALM data.

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