How do I Become a Family Law Attorney?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A person who wants to become a family law attorney must spend several years in school. After high school, college, and law school, an aspiring family law attorney must typically pass an exam in order to become a fully practicing lawyer. At that point, he may apply to become a family law attorney for a law firm, either as a permanent career move or to gain experience that will help him to open and be successful in his own family law practice.

Prospective family law attorneys must pass educational requirements.
Prospective family law attorneys must pass educational requirements.

Family law attorneys handle many different areas of family law. For example, a family law attorney may handle cases of divorce, child custody, and support. A family lawyer may also handle issues related to alimony and the division of assets and debts during a divorce. People in this area of law may also take on paternity cases and those in which someone wants to terminate parental rights. This type of lawyer may also handle certain types of abuse cases and those related to adoption as well as assisting with wills, trust funds and probate work.

To become a family law attorney, an individual has to earn a high school diploma or a jurisdiction-accepted equivalent. For example, colleges in many jurisdictions accept applicants with General Educational Development (GEDs) diplomas. Once enrolled in college, an aspiring lawyer may declare just about any major and still gain admittance to law school. Law-related, political science, and even business majors can be particularly helpful to preparing for a law career and the prospect of running a law firm.

An individual who wants to become a family law attorney usually completes four years of college and earns a bachelor’s degree before going on to law school. While in law school, a person interested in this career should take some courses in family law. He may also gain a career boost by securing a position with a family law firm while he is still enrolled in law school. For example, he may work as an intern or clerk, gaining experience that may help him when he’s ready to practice. Additionally, the law firm may go on to hire him once he’s able to practice law.

Once a person has finished law school and taken the required exam, he may then create a resume and search for a job with a family law firm. Highlighting his experience as an intern or clerk may prove helpful. After gaining experience, a person in this field may decide to go into private practice.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


I always thought that a family lawyer was a normal lawyer who lived in a small town and helped a few select families. It looks like it is a specific type of law that you can practice even in a large firm. This sounds interesting to me, because I wanted to become a lawyer that was involved with parental rights, but also work for a larger firm in a big city.

Internships are really key for family law and really for all types of law. Law firm internships are easier to get for the second summer (after your 2L year) rather than the first.

For your 1L summer, if you are interested in family law you might try it at a legal aid society. These organizations do a lot of pro bono family law. They help low-income individuals with divorces, child support, child custody, orders of protection (restraining orders), etc.

You'll then get a chance to see if you like the kind of work -- a private firm might have a different set of clients (wealthier, since they would be paying) but the basic idea of the work is the same. And you get to help people, which I think really most people really do want to do.

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