Preparing for a Career in Family Law

Students who excel at counseling, negotiation, and client care should consider a career in family law. Family law practices mediate, counsel, and litigate a wide variety of domestic matters including estate planning, divorce proceedings, custody cases, and adoption. The field of family law continues to be a growing field as complex family structures create the need for legal support.

Careers in family law provide stable hours and up close and personal work with clients. Family law is not for everyone. The personal nature of casework often proves challenging as family lawyers seek to legally resolve failed marriages, heated custody battles, and paternity cases. However, students who demonstrate an affinity for working one on one with clients and those who seek to make a difference in the lives of individuals find family law practice to be a rewarding career path.

As a family law attorney, I had never imagined I would end up in this route. About halfway through my undergrad, my sister was experiencing a messy divorce. I was determined to find the resources necessary to help her win the child custody court case.

I found exactly what she needed received so much gratification from helping her that I knew this was the right path for me.

To prepare for a career in family law, students should focus their studies and professional development on family law related subjects. Developing a firm foundation of family law knowledge as well as creating a strong network within the family law community sets law students up for success in finding and creating a strong career path.

1. Focus Academic Work

Choose undergraduate work relevant to family law practice. In addition to providing a line on your resume, a majoring or minoring in subjects like social work and psychology provides students with a  well-rounded educational background that will assist and inform their practice of family law.

Family law attorneys interact with clients directly, often during high stress times in their lives. Develop strong interpersonal skills and a firm understanding of human development and psychology to truly thrive in the family law field.

2. Volunteer/Intern

Seek out volunteer opportunities related to the field. Take volunteer positions working with children, working with social services, and providing counseling. Take the opportunity to see if you enjoy working closely with people in times of stress and heightened emotion.

Seek out internships in judicial probate and family court. Working closely with attorneys who practice within the discipline gives aspirant family lawyers a taste of what working in the field is really like. Take the opportunity to decide if mediating a heated divorce or paternity suit interests you. Helping prep for a custody case allows a front row perspective of the kinds of challenges working in family law poses.

3. Read Related Publications

Keep up with current cases and trends in family law by reading legal publications tailored to the family law discipline. Publications like Family Law Quarterly and the Family Advocate offer a wide variety of professional articles about the practice of family law. The field is constantly changing as the definition of family grows and changes in the community at large. Stay abreast of current topics and changes in the field.

4. Find Mentors

Seek out mentors who practice family law. Ask for their advice and recommendations. Family law has a high burnout rate due to the personal nature of casework. Take time to talk with a mentor to help determine if you have a personality that is suited to the kind of work that practicing family law requires.

While family law is an emotionally charged segment of the law profession, many students find it the right blend of law and personal counsel. As with choosing any law specialization, take the time to fully understand the practice of family law and what it entails. Seek a strong educational background to grow into a rewarding professional career.

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