Career Development

What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

Find out what a family lawyer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a family lawyer.

Family law is a specialized area of practice that deals with the legal issues that arise in the context of family relationships. These relationships can include marriage, divorce, child custody and visitation, adoption, domestic partnerships, etc.

Family law attorneys help clients navigate these complex issues by providing advice on how to best resolve their disputes or problems. They may also represent their clients in court if necessary.

Family Lawyer Job Duties

Family lawyers are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Drafting legal pleadings such as complaints, motions, or briefs to be reviewed by the attorney or judge before being filed with the court
  • Representing clients in court by answering questions from judges or opposing counsel and arguing in favor of their clients’ positions
  • Conducting research on relevant laws and precedents to prepare cases for trial
  • Providing legal advice and counsel to clients regarding family law issues such as divorce, child custody, support payments, adoption, and domestic violence
  • Preparing legal documents such as summonses, complaints, motions, briefs, and writs
  • Interviewing clients to gather information about their case, including details about the conflict or other pertinent facts related to the case
  • Preparing negotiation strategies with clients to resolve legal disputes out of court through settlements or other methods such as mediation or arbitration
  • Assisting clients with drafting wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents
  • Negotiating with opposing counsel or parties to reach settlements that satisfy client needs while adhering to legal requirements

Family Lawyer Salary & Outlook

Family lawyers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of family law case they are handling.

  • Median Annual Salary: $86,500 ($41.59/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $163,000 ($78.37/hour)

The employment of family law lawyers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need for family law services will depend on the state of the economy and the stability of families. When the economy is strong, couples are more likely to get married and have children. However, during recessions, divorce rates tend to increase as people seek less expensive ways to end their marriages.

Related: Family Lawyer Interview Questions and Answers

Family Lawyer Job Requirements

A family lawyer typically needs to have the following:

Education: Most family law attorneys have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many aspiring family law attorneys choose to major in political science, English, history or another discipline that will help them understand the law and the legal system.

Many aspiring family law attorneys also choose to pursue a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. The J.D. is a law degree that typically takes three years to complete. The first two years are spent in law school, and the final year is spent completing a practical legal education (PLE) in a law firm.

Training & Experience: Most newly admitted lawyers will work as associates in a law firm. This allows them to gain practical experience in a law firm setting. They will work under a senior lawyer who will supervise their work and provide them with feedback.

Lawyers can also gain training through internships. These allow them to learn more about the legal field and can help them decide which area of law they want to specialize in. They can also learn more about the role of a lawyer and the responsibilities they will have.

Lawyers can also receive on-the-job training in their current roles. This training can help them learn more about the firm’s policies and procedures. They can also learn more about the firm’s clients and the cases they handle.

Certifications & Licenses: Most states require lawyers to pass the bar exam after completing their legal studies and before being licensed to practice. The exam varies from state to state, but all states require a Multistate Bar Examination and a Multistate Essay Examination. Some states also require a Multistate Performance Test.

In addition to the bar exam, many states require lawyers to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination to be licensed. This test ensures that lawyers understand the ethical standards required of them.

Family Lawyer Skills

Family lawyers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Family law cases often involve multiple parties, including the client, their spouse, their children and any other parties involved in the case. A family law lawyer needs excellent communication skills to be able to effectively communicate with all parties involved in the case. They also need to be able to communicate complex legal information in a way that their clients can understand.

Research skills: Family law cases often involve a variety of legal issues, including those related to real estate, contracts, child support and other areas of law. As a family law attorney, it’s important to have strong research skills so you can find the information you need to support your clients’ cases.

Negotiation skills: Negotiation is the process by which two parties come to an agreement. Family law lawyers use negotiation skills to help clients reach agreements on issues like child custody, property division and spousal support. Lawyers may also use negotiation skills to help clients reach agreements on issues that aren’t related to family law, such as a contract dispute.

Empathy skills: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Family law attorneys use empathy skills to help their clients navigate the emotional aspects of their cases. For example, if a client is going through a divorce, the attorney can use empathy skills to understand the client’s feelings and offer them support.

Analytical skills: Family law cases often involve complex legal and social issues. Your analytical skills allow you to assess a situation and develop a strategy to resolve it. For example, you may use analytical skills to help you determine if a client’s situation is suitable for mediation or if they need to file for divorce.

Family Lawyer Work Environment

Family lawyers work in private law firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may have to work longer hours to meet deadlines or prepare for court hearings. Family lawyers often work on more than one case at a time and must be able to juggle multiple deadlines. They also need to be available to their clients at all hours, as many legal issues can arise outside of normal business hours. Family lawyers may travel to meet with clients, attend court hearings, or visit government offices. They may also travel to take depositions or to attend conferences.

Family Lawyer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how family lawyers work. Family lawyers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Collaborative Law

As family law becomes more collaborative, lawyers will need to adapt their practices to meet the needs of clients. This means that lawyers will need to be able to work effectively with other professionals, such as psychologists and financial advisors.

In addition, lawyers will need to be able to communicate effectively with clients in order to understand their goals and help them reach a resolution that is both fair and beneficial for all parties involved.

More Use of Technology

Family law attorneys are increasingly using technology to streamline their practices. One example of this is the use of electronic documents, which allows lawyers to save time and money by not having to print and file paper copies of legal documents.

Another trend is the increased use of online tools, such as cloud-based document storage systems, which allow lawyers to access important files from anywhere. This can be especially helpful for those who travel frequently or work remotely.

The Importance of Diversity

Diversity has become an increasingly important issue in the legal profession in recent years. As more and more people from different backgrounds enter law school, the demand for lawyers who understand the unique challenges they face will continue to grow.

Family law lawyers can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in areas such as divorce, child custody, and adoption. By doing so, they can provide valuable services to families who may otherwise feel uncomfortable working with a lawyer who does not understand their culture or background.

How to Become a Family Lawyer

A career as a family lawyer can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider what you want out of your legal career before embarking on this path. Do you want to work in a big firm, small firm, or solo practice? Do you want to specialize in a particular area of law, such as divorce, child custody, or adoption?

No matter where you end up practicing, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the law and how it applies to family matters. You should also be able to effectively communicate with clients and understand their needs.

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a family lawyer. One of the best is to specialize in a particular area of family law, such as divorce, child custody, or adoption. This will make you more valuable to potential clients and employers, and will give you a more focused area of expertise. Another way to advance your career is to get involved in community organizations or legal aid societies that work on family law issues. This will give you valuable experience and exposure to the field, and will help you build a network of contacts. Finally, consider pursuing an advanced degree in law or a related field. This will make you more marketable and could lead to higher-paying positions.

Family Lawyer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we understand that family law is about more than just the law – it’s about people. We’re looking for a lawyer with experience in family law to join our team, who will approach each case with compassion and understanding. The ideal candidate will have experience with a variety of family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and adoption. He or she will be a skilled negotiator and mediator, with the ability to navigate the often emotionally charged landscape of family law.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand the client’s objectives and develop a legal strategy to achieve those objectives
  • Investigate the facts of the case and identify the issues involved
  • Research the law and prepare for court hearings
  • Draft documents such as pleadings, motions, and discovery requests
  • Appear in court on behalf of the client and present the client’s case
  • Negotiate settlements on behalf of the client
  • Keep the client informed of developments in the case
  • Manage the client’s expectations
  • Handle all aspects of the case from start to finish
  • Be available to answer the client’s questions
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Bill the client for services rendered

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school
  • Admission to state bar
  • 3-5 years of experience in family law
  • Strong research, writing, and analytical skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Masters of Law degree in family law or related field
  • Board certification in family law
  • 7-10 years of experience in family law
  • Experience with mediation or collaborative law


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