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Pending litigation may do wonders for the campaign coffers of a presidential campaign, but generally, it’s difficult to see a silver lining when facing legal action. That’s why a new survey about how much litigation corporate lawyers say they’re facing will strike many as about as upbeat as The Smiths’ lyrics.

The data comes from law firm Norton Rose Fulbright’s (the other NRF!) annual survey on litigation trends, and includes in-house and general counsel lawyers from sectors including retail. The firm surveyed more than 400 legal professionals in September 2023.

Lawyered up: Asked if they were exposed to more litigation over the past 12 months, lawyers in the retail sector were busiest in two categories:

Retail attorneys were the most likely to say they faced increased cyber and data protection litigation in the past year (57%), as well as regulatory investigations (35%).

As for the outlook for the next 12 months, call it past as prologue:

Retail lawyers were the most likely to expect increased cyber and data protection litigation over the next 12 months (50%), and more employment and labor disputes (40%).

While attorneys for tech companies were the most likely to say they expected increased intellectual property litigation over the next year (42%), attorneys for retail companies were second (36%).

ESG is a BFD: Once considered a virtue, and now polarizing, the category of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) prompted increased litigation among 29% of retail companies in the past 12 months, and 25% of the retail lawyers expected it to keep increasing over the next 12 months.

For the environment specifically, among respondents from all sectors including retail who expected to face more legal disputes in the next 12 months, most (54%) predicted they’d be fueled by allegations related to greenwashing or other false environmental claims, followed by climate change and greenhouse emissions (43%).