Each year FindLaw.com, the most popular consumer legal website, asks its in-house legal team to create a list of the top legal issues they believe consumers will be thinking about, talking about and learning about in 2011. Now, here are The FindLaw Top 10 Consumer Legal Issues for 2011:
1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The economy and jobs will continue to be first in our minds in the New Year. The job market affects many of the other legal issues that FindLaw.com predicts will also be big in 2011, including home foreclosures, immigration and healthcare, to name just a few.
The Bush-era tax cuts have been extended, but more changes in the tax laws are coming in 2011. Small businesses and consumers alike will be watching to see what happens to the estate tax, the Social Security tax and business taxes in 2011.
With one ruling finding part of the Healthcare Reform Act unconstitutional and one ruling finding it was within the constitutional powers of Congress to enact, it is certain the legal and legislative fight over the law will take center stage in 2011.
2010 saw tragic headlines involving the consequences of bullying. The coming year may see action by lawmakers across the country dealing with both physical and online bullying.
5. Gay Rights: Same-Sex Marriage and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Don’t ask don’t tell may be all but resolved, but in 2011, the courts will hand down new decisions on California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
6. TSA Enhanced Airport Security
The uproar over the new enhanced security procedures at airports may be only beginning. FindLaw predicts more suits and more debate in the year to come over the use of full-body scans and pat-downs.
7. Divorce/Child Custody
The economy and new technologies are affecting how divorces are handled. Parents’ concerns about modifying support agreements if they lose their jobs, and innovations like virtual visitation, are changing the way courts look at support and visitation issues.
A struggling housing market and lawsuits and controversy over the handling of foreclosures means housing issues will still be prominent in the New Year. Several cases filed by states’ attorneys general against mortgage service providers may be heard or settled in 2011.
9. Facebook/Online Privacy
Lawsuits regarding online privacy and controversy over the policies of the web’s most popular social networking site, Facebook, as well as other internet sites, punctuated 2010. Issues regarding privacy of personal information online and offline will continue to be hot topics 2011.
In 2010, the passage of Arizona’s controversial immigration law turned up the volume on the immigration debate. With President Obama pressing for passage of the DREAM Act, a recent ruling by the California Supreme Court on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and court challenges to the Arizona law, immigration will continue to be vigorously debated in 2011.
— Michelle Croteau, Director, Marketing Communications
with Tanya Roth, FindLaw Portal Team