As a law student deciding what area of law to pursue as a career can be the most difficult and daunting decision to make and it can only really be answered once you’ve experienced them. We’ve gathered together some insights from actually family lawyers, as well as general advice on family law to help you decide if it’s the right for you.
Areas of Family Law
Family law is an area that covers a multitude of facets, the most common of which are divorce proceedings, custody, child support and property settlement. It is perfectly normal that as a family lawyer you will likely practice in all of these fields, while simultaneously focusing on one practice.
The experiential route was certainly the most suggested when it comes to discovering what type of law you want to practice in.
One family lawyer that has practiced for 19 years gave the specific advice of, “Work 6 months with a family practitioner at least while in law school to see if you like it”.
It can be extremely difficult to find an appropriate work experience job however, so if you are unable to find such a role a lawyer with 24 years experienced suggested at least, “talk to experienced practitioners about working in family law before entering it”.
We would advise also researching online the specifics of practicing family law that provide greater analysis than course work. As well as reading articles about what should be understood and family lawyers opinions, such as this one. (Well Done!)
According to Lawyers Plus, one attorney gave an in-depth description of the skills and attributes a family lawyer should possess.
“It is very helpful to develop counselling skills, as you will be dealing with people going through a very emotional time in their lives”, he continued on communication requirements, “People skills are important, particularly oral communication. You are constantly in contact with people whether it be your client opposing counsel, or court personnel”.
He also discussed the need for skills in: time management, meditation, litigation and basic understanding of accounting and financial management.
This is in addition to all the necessary legal knowledge that would form the basis of your abilities as a lawyer.
Negatives of Family Law
Law in general is not for everyone, with a plethora of reasons why you shouldn’t become a lawyer, family law has a couple more that are unique.
“It’s tough stuff and it’s sad work”, a lawyer with 13 years’ experience bleakly remarked, “the only joy I find in the work is successful mediation with cases that have been settled with litigation avoided”. She also added, “If you’re not a caretaker don’t do it. If you’re it for the money, don’t do it”.
This should not be seen as discouragement, rather just an expression of the realities that will be faced as a family lawyer.
Positives of Family Law
While the family law can be tough, hard and discouraging it can also be extremely rewarding.
This is summed up effectively by Gail Nunn, “It is the most rewarding and most frustrating area of law”.
For most family lawyers it is the personal level which family law function on the ability to work with people and help them personally.
“It’s a good area if you like dealing with people more than paper”, Nunn stated.
San Franciscan Lawyer Lawrence Stotter was drawn to family law because of the human elements, “the personal involvement with clients and the ability to guide parties legally who are in distress.”
While Gary Skoloff talked about the children, “saving the children from parents who love them but lose their sense of perspective.”
Family law more than any other law can provide you with the opportunity to personal help guide someone onto a better life path, or ease the pain felt through one their hardest moments. For this reason it can be the most fulfilling area of law.
When considering entering any area of law, understanding the nuances, intricacies and caveats is of the upmost importance. In regards to family law, the emotional and personal level which these function means that the personal turmoil can be elevated for you as the lawyer. We hope that these small insights and guidance can help assist you on your decision on whether or not family law is the right area of law for you.