Defining a “hot practice area” does not come from the “gut.” Developed over several decades, Hermann uses his “Practice Area Analysis Template” to evaluate emerging practice areas and future growth in both mainstream and JD Preferred ( a.k.a. JD Advantage) employment. Here are his 10 specific metrics that must be satisfied, or mostly satisfied, by a practice or employment area to be deemed “hot”:
1. Supply and Demand. Ideally, the demand for individuals who can do the work should exceed the supply of qualified individuals.
2. Number of Job Opportunities. The practice area should offer a large number of job opportunities relative to other practice options.
3. Sustainability. The practice area should not be a flash in the pan. It should exhibit signs that it will be around beyond the present.
4. An Upward Curve. The practice area should be a growth industry.
5. Geographic Scope. Jobs should be available nationwide, or at least in a large number of geographic locations.
6. Relative Ease of Entry. The practice area’s learning curve should not be too steep to be conquered by a novice. Some affordable education or training should be available to supplement basic legal education and experience.
7. Ideally, It Should Be New or Different. The practice area should allow for opportunities for practitioners to be among those who are “first-past-the-post.”
8. Distinctive Value Proposition/Competitive Advantage. Practice area knowledge should be able to provide the elements of a unique selling proposition for a job campaign.
9. Threat Analysis. Is this practice potentially subject to substitution of a human lawyer by a disruptive technology…or something else? And how soon could this happen?
10. Compensation. Will this career field allow someone to manage his/her student debt effectively?