Domestic violence attorneys take on cases involving the abuse or neglect of a child, disabled individual, or elderly person. Often, these attorneys also handle cases involving the abuse of a spouse or partner. For example, a domestic violence attorney may represent a person who has been abused physically or emotionally or take legal action in cases that involve stalking or verbal threats and harassment. The steps you'll have to take to become a domestic violence attorney may depend on the country in which you live, but general requirements include graduating from high school, attending college, and graduating from law school. After earning a law degree, you'll typically have to pass a licensing exam to practice law and then seek employment in this specialty.
In most places, the first step in becoming a domestic violence attorney is graduating from high school or taking a test to earn a general educational development (GED) diploma. In particular, high school classes in composition and public speaking may be particularly helpful for building verbal and written communication skills that may prove helpful in a legal career. Additionally, earning good grades in high school may improve your chances of being accepted by your college of choice.
After high school, you'll typically need to enroll in an accredited college or university in pursuit of a four-year college degree. You may be accepted to law school with just about any degree, but some aspiring lawyers find it beneficial to choose a law-related major. Law schools typically prefer students who have high grade point averages, so it's important to excel as you prepare for acceptance to law school, no matter what your major.
Law school is typically the last step you'll need to take as you work to become a domestic violence attorney. To gain admittance to law school, you may have to take pre-admission standardized exams; provide official transcripts and letters of recommendation; and interview with the law schools to which you are applying. Once admitted, you'll likely spend three to four years in law school preparing for this career. You may do well to major in family law if your school offers it as a major. If not, you may do well to take as many family law courses as possible instead.
Securing an internship with a family law practice or domestic violence organization may also help prepare you to become a domestic violence attorney. Gaining this type of hands-on experience may help you better understand the work you'll do once you are a practicing lawyer. Additionally, such experience may make you a more attractive job candidate once the time comes to apply for a job. In fact, some firms offer their best interns regular jobs once they graduate.
The next steps you'll usually have to take to become a domestic violence attorney are graduating from law school and passing your jurisdiction's licensing exam, which is called the bar exam in many places. Typically, passing a licensing exam is the final requirement for becoming a practicing attorney. Once you've taken and passed your jurisdiction's exam, you may then apply for a job as a domestic violence attorney.