It looks like IP is the place to be.

During the first quarter of 2013, demand for intellectual property patent work from law firms rose by 5.1 percent, while demand for almost all other major practice areas decreased, according to the Peer Monitor Index, which gathers data from about 145 of the top 250 law firms in the U.S.

The increased demand for IP work makes sense when you consider that just last month the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) switched from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent filing system. According to Thomson Reuters, many entities swarmed the PTO with applications, trying to take advantage of the old rules before they expired. On March 15, the day before the new rules went into effect, the PTO received 13,888 applications.

Outside the patent world, things didn’t look so rosy for law firms in 2013’s first quarter. Demand for legal services overall dropped by 3.4 percent. Labor and employment, typically a strong practice, fell by 9 percent, and general litigation fell by 3.7 percent.


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