Lawyers can be marketers too, if the growing trend of national law firms opening up new quasi-practice groups in “subprime” is any indication. The latest is Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, one of the largest law firms in the country, which said Wednesday that it had formed a subprime lending team. The firm said it will pull from its consumer finance, real estate, investment management, bankruptcy, securitization and white collar litigation practice areas in an effort to represent the interests of financial institutions. “When the American Dialect Society chose ‘subprime’ as the word of the year, it not only touched on a subject that is popular in the media, but on an issue that has a significant and ongoing impact on the overall commercial financial health of the United States,â€? said Henry E. Hockeimer, Jr., a partner in Ballard’s litigation department. “As the subprime crisis grows, it’s clear that the effects will be felt across several disciplines and throughout the country.” In other words: we think there are some fees to be extracted here. Class-action lawsuits tied to subprime mortgage lending spiked during 2007, and are expected to increase in frequency during 2008. So defending the financial sector is certainly likely to be a growth industry this year. That being said, I think many law firms wanting to get a piece of the litigation puzzle here are being too narrow in forming “subprime” groups. Litigation in the securities industry alone, for example, isn’t likely to be limited to just subprime.

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