IP law is cyclical, as patent and trademark applications do decline when the economy declines, but of course so does corporate work. I tried to stay balanced and did both IP prosecution (filing) but mainly IP litigation, and litigation always increases in a down economy as there are more fights over dividing up the pie when it is not growing. Even if you specialize, it is nice if your firm has a balance of practice areas so that at least one sector is always doing well and can sustain the firm.
Kind of surprised to see this- there was another IP lawyer in another thread that said they saw patents go up or stay level during the recessions because businesses want to protect what they have.
You protect old patents via litigation. This is probably why litigation does alright during economic downturns.
Patent prosecution involves NEW patents which by definition require NEW technology, and in an economic downturn relatively little money is being put into cutting-edge R&D by the big engineering/technology firms. So patent prosecution tends to go down in prolonged economic downturns.