What is a family law attorney?

A family law attorney specializes in legal matters concerning family law. These legal professionals handle cases involving child custody and child support, child emancipation, paternity issues, divorce, division of marital property, mediation between family members, litigation in court, adoption proceedings, estates, wills, spousal alimony, and prenuptial and postnuptial documents.

Sometimes, a family law attorney will handle more than one of these issues in a single case (i.e. divorce with child support and alimony). Family law attorneys often represent clients in emotionally-strained situations, as the outcome of any legal action will have lasting effects on their lives. 

Here at Parker + Lynch, we help candidates align with family law attorney jobs at leading firms throughout the U.S. Whether you're a proven family law attorney or are just looking to move into the role for the first time, we invite you to search our available family law attorney jobs and apply today.

Typical family law attorney responsibilities

A family law attorney should be adept at multitasking, and be an excellent communicator. Negotiating, debating, and comforting clients are all part of the job. Other responsibilities include the following:

  • Offer legal advice best suited for clients’ specific issues
  • Supervise and mediate sessions with parties of cases
  • Mediate and oversee all communications pertaining to legal matters concerning clients
  • Write, organize, and file all legal documents for each case
  • Prepare detailed briefs to staff, if a case goes to trial
  • Attend (and inform clients of) all meetings, conferences, depositions, hearings, trials, and court appearances
  • Keep client updated on the progress of their ongoing case

In addition to the skills listed above, a good family law attorney will be well-versed in translating complicated legalese to their clients in simple terms. They will also need to communicate frequently with their clients, understanding the stress and emotional strain they may be under. The ability to successfully balance multiple clients and cases at the same time is another valued asset of a good family law attorney.

Essential skills for family law attorneys

In order to be successful in a family law attorney role, you should possess or develop some or all of these traits:

  • Effective time management and organizational skills.
  • Above par written and oral communication abilities.
  • Ability to show compassion to distressed clients, while maintaining professionalism.
  • Focused multitasking within the same or different cases.
  • Extensive knowledge of all documents and filings pertaining to specific cases.
  • An acute attention to detail.
  • Strong dependability and respect for confidentiality.

Family law attorney salaries and employment outlook

As of 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median pay for a lawyer was $122,960. As with any employment that requires degrees, the higher the education and qualifications, the higher the salary that is typically offered. There is more opportunity for advancement based on skill level, experience, location, and education.

The family law attorney job market is very active in the U.S., with salary and demand for the position being dependent on location. If you are seeking a family law attorney position, applying with more background in the profession will give you an advantage. You may also want to increase your skill sets, experience in different areas of the job, and even your education, if possible, to continue to advance further in your career.

Expected education and certifications for family law attorneys

To become a family law attorney, at a minimum, you’ll need a Juris Doctor degree in Law. You’ll also need a license to practice law from your State Bar Association. A minimum of 3+ years of experience in the family law field is generally sought. The more experience you can accumulate, the better chances you’ll have at getting the job.

Higher-paying family law attorney positions will ask that you are in good standing with the Bar Association, and that you have at least some courtroom or legal research experience. If this experience is specifically within family law, that’s even better. The best paid family law attorneys hold an undergraduate, J.D., and are certified family law specialists.

Potential interview questions for family law attorneys

All of the above degrees and certifications are a great start when you’re applying for a family law attorney position. However, you’ll need to prove yourself worthy as an individual during the interview process. Your answers to the following questions will help the interviewer assess your ability to communicate effectively and multitask, and they will demonstrate your specific work experience.

  • How do you prioritize cases?
  • What mediation techniques do you use?
  • How do you calm a tense situation between family members?
  • Describe your most challenging family law case?
  • What makes you passionate about family law?

Be sure to show your individual passion for family law practice during your interview. That can set you apart from other candidates applying for the same position, who have the same experience and education. You may also need to provide references of past work associates and colleagues, along with any other pertinent documents.

Professional organizations and associations for family law attorneys

Networking is key to garnering more experience and keeping you updated on new developments in the family law practice world. There are great professional associations and organizations you can join to further advance your knowledge of your industry and your career.  It’s notable that individual states also have family law specific organizations you may choose to join. The following apply regardless of state:

  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • National Association for Legal Professionals (NALP)
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)

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