Table of Contents Hide
- What is Family Lawyer?
- What skills do you need to become a family lawyer?
- How to Become a Family Lawyer
What is Family Lawyer?
A family lawyer is a licensed legal professional who is responsible for dealing with legal issues that arise between members of the same family. These may include divorce, adoption, guardianship, and emancipation cases. They are responsible for overseeing family estates, monitoring mediation sessions, and offering legal advice.
What Does a Family Lawyer Do?
Family Lawyers work with a range of clients including vulnerable individuals such as children and the elderly, advising them on their options and rights. The duties of a family law practitioner can vary greatly from case to case; however, the key responsibilities of a Family Lawyer usually include:
- Attempting to resolve complex claims and reach settlement outside of court through alternative dispute resolution
- If no settlement can be reached, proceeding the case in court, representing your clients and carrying out all duties associated with Dispute Resolution or Litigation Lawyers.
- Drafting, negotiating, and reviewing court documents such as pleadings or witness statements.
- Liaising with a variety of other professionals including psychologists, doctors, social workers, and police officers.
- Researching historic cases that bare resemblance to your ongoing files.
- Examining and evaluating any evidence that may prove beneficial to your clients.
- Effectively and empathetically managing emotionally unpredictable situations.
What skills do you need to become a family lawyer?
The legal field in general requires exceptional communication skills, while working with families demands the capacity to connect with and relate to others on a very human level. Family lawyers thus need the following skills to be successful:
- Analytical thinking
- Thorough knowledge of legal documents
- Client servicing
- The ability to explain legal matters to clients with little or no legal knowledge
- The ability to work with people of all ages from all walks of life, including children and the elderly
How to Become a Family Lawyer
When going into a law career, there are many areas you can specialize in. If you are interested in handling relational matters, then you may want to consider becoming a family lawyer. Those who pursue this type of law career work on a wide variety of cases, often involving strong emotions and high stakes. In this article, we explain how to become a family lawyer and what to expect in this career.
Practicing law in any capacity comes with specific licensure and academic expectations. If you want to become a family lawyer, then you need to follow these steps:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
Before law school, you need to earn your bachelor’s degree. While some four-year schools offer a pre-law program, there are other areas of study you can pursue during your undergrad. Students preparing for law school tend to major in criminal justice, psychology, sociology or government. The coursework you take can also prepare you for law school. Consider enrolling in courses that can help you improve your communication and public speaking skills.
During your undergrad, there are quite a few things you can do to prepare for law school. Along with taking relevant courses, you can use this time to build meaningful relationships with your academic advisors and professors. By having these connections, you can have a pool of qualified people to choose from when you need a letter of recommendation for your law school application.
2. Pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
One major part of getting into law school is passing the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Most aspiring family lawyers take this exam toward the end of their undergraduate program. The questions in the LSAT are designed to test your logical and analytical thinking skills. You can prepare for the exam by taking study courses and practice exams.
Along with a favorable score on the LSAT, many law schools require you to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement and your application payment. Having a high grade-point average (GPA) during your undergrad and a high score on your LSAT can improve your chances of getting into law school.
3. Complete law school
When looking for a law school to attend, make sure it is accredited y the American Bar Association (ABA). As you attend law school, you will work toward earning your Juris Doctor (JD). Many law school programs last about three years. During your first year, you’ll learn about all kinds of law topics. When progressing to your second and third years of school, you’ll have a chance to enroll in advanced-level courses. This is your chance to become knowledgeable about family law topics, such as divorce, adoption, custody, child welfare and marriage.
During your final year of law school, you will learn about taking the bar exam. This is a test that states administer to determine if you know enough about the law to become a licensed lawyer. Along with preparing for the bar exam, you can work on gaining relevant family law experience to make yourself a more hirable candidate after graduation. Many family law students participate in family law clinics and intern at family law firms.
4. Obtain a law license
Once you graduate from law school, it’s time to take your bar exam. Depending on your state’s rules, you may need to take a series of exams that may take a few days. Some of these exams will include multiple-choice questions, while others might involve essay questions. Once you pass your exams and submit everything to the state, you are officially a member of your state’s bar.
5. Accumulate continuing education credits
Even after you finish all of your schooling and licensure tests, you may need to earn continuing education credits throughout the course of your career in order to keep your license to practice law. These requirements vary by state. You can earn continuing education credits by attending conferences, seminars or lectures. You can also earn credit by completing an in-person or online course. When figuring out ways to continue your education, you will need to ensure your state approves of them.
6. Consider additional education
While earning an additional degree isn’t necessary for family lawyers, it is a great way to pursue even more career opportunities. You may find that by earning your master of laws degree, you are a more hirable candidate for high-level family law positions. Some of these programs allow you to specialize in family law, allowing you to expand your knowledge of the field.