Home » Law 2050 Initiative » 45 Legal Practice Fields that Didn’t Exist 5 Years Ago (or Even Yesterday)

45 Legal Practice Fields that Didn’t Exist 5 Years Ago (or Even Yesterday)

Each year in my Law 2050 class at Vanderbilt Law School, students identify an emerging technological, economic, environmental, or social trend and project it into the future to explore how it might generate law and policy issues needing lawyers’ attention. They write a blog post about it, then a client alert memo, then a bar journal article. They can choose any practice perspective defining who they and their clients are: private practice, government, plaintiffs, public interest, international, etc. The goal is to instill curiosity, entrepreneurship, and writing skills to put them “on the map” as they start out in practice. (For a great example of this exercise in scenario building for lawyers, check out Carolyn Elefant’s excellent ebook: 41 Legal Practice Areas that Didn’t Exist 15 Years Ago.)

I’ve been doing this for six years, and it has amazed me how many new themes come into the picture each year that weren’t on the radar screen the year before. Even the themes that have come up before have evolved so rapidly that they present entirely new dimensions to explore.

Below are this year’s themes—what an impressive list! I’ll bet you haven’t even heard of some of them. I’m really looking forward to reading my student’s bar journal articles to see where they take these:

  • Electric scooters
  • Malicious audio/video editing
  • Social credit system & facial recognition
  • CRISPR
  • Predictive policing
  • Advanced energy storage for wind & solar
  • Private space exploration
  • Dark web policing
  • Social media influencers
  • Genealogy technology & policing
  • Emerging technology trade controls
  • Space trash
  • Algorithm bias
  • Health insurer role in opioid crisis
  • Cannabis law legal conflicts
  • Augmented reality
  • In vitro fertilization parental tech and parental rights
  • Scent technology
  • Implantable microchips
  • Alexa and criminal enforcement
  • Private artificial islands
  • Radio frequency electric charging
  • Geoengineering—solar radiation management & CO2 removal
  • Non-bank fintech
  • Biometric privacy
  • E-sports industry
  • Medical record blockchain
  • Cultured meat regulation
  • Emotional AI
  • NCAA rules for high school pro drafts
  • Initial coin offerings
  • Data privacy regulation (GDPR)
  • Smart microgrids
  • Law firm insourcing of non-legal services
  • Freebooting video content
  • Artificial embryos
  • Hyperloop
  • 23&Me health testing
  • Voice cloning issues
  • Arctic circle transportation and minerals
  • CRISPR
  • Alternative legal services providers and legal malpractice
  • Blockchain and real estate titles
  • Sport betting and machine learning
  • Personal data sales and privacy regulation

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