Divorce attorneys

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katie96
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Divorce attorneys

Postby katie96 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:45 pm

Okay, forgive me if I am totally in the dark, but it seems that the majority of TLS-ers applying/enrolled in law school are interested in biglaw, PI, "international law" (yeah, right), IP, etc., but I never hear anything about family law, which is what I am pretty set on doing, specifically divorce law (and please spare me the lecture on how divorce law is "soul-crushing work"). Anyway, as I said, I rarely hear anything about this type of law on TLS, so I am wondering if there is anyone out there who can offer information on whether family law jobs are available to fresh law grads.

I am applying this cycle and set on Fordham or above (being in NYC is very important to me and since the jump from Fordham to NYU is significantly high..... here's to dominating in October :D ).

1898
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby 1898 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:58 pm

I am also interested in divorce law (and adoption law, for that matter) and would love to hear what people think about it. Are there any schools that are particularly well known for these areas?

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NYC Law
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby NYC Law » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:03 pm


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Cupidity
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby Cupidity » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:04 pm

1898 wrote:Are there any schools that are particularly well known for these areas?


No.

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minnbills
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby minnbills » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:36 pm

I have a family friend who is a prominent divorce attorney here in the TC.

He went to a TTT and did not get a job after law school. He hung a shingle and did shitlaw (wills, etc.) and eventually got a job with a small firm where they taught him the ropes for divorce. He worked his way up to one of the big divorce firms, was denied partner and went out on his own. He clears anywhere from 150-300k a year. He is also, keep in mind, an unusual success story.

From what I understand, one of the really difficult parts about breaking in to family law is that you really aren't supposed to handle divorces right out of the gate, as experience is really a requirement. I hear about a lot of people who hired poor attorneys and really got things screwed up.

There are some obvious benefits and drawbacks to the practice. On one hand, there will always be people getting divorced. On the other, most people these days don't want to shell out the cash for an attorney and will use non-attorney arbiters or whatever, which cuts in to business. You'll hear a lot about: "dealing wiht people at the worst moment in their lives" but that's supposedly a bit overblown. You do need to have the right personality for it.

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katie96
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby katie96 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:38 pm

minnbills wrote:I have a family friend who is a prominent divorce attorney here in the TC.

He went to a TTT and did not get a job after law school. He hung a shingle and did shitlaw (wills, etc.) and eventually got a job with a small firm where they taught him the ropes for divorce. He worked his way up to one of the big divorce firms, was denied partner and went out on his own. He clears anywhere from 150-300k a year. He is also, keep in mind, an unusual success story.

From what I understand, one of the really difficult parts about breaking in to family law is that you really aren't supposed to handle divorces right out of the gate, as experience is really a requirement. I hear about a lot of people who hired poor attorneys and really got things screwed up.

There are some obvious benefits and drawbacks to the practice. On one hand, there will always be people getting divorced. On the other, most people these days don't want to shell out the cash for an attorney and will use non-attorney arbiters or whatever, which cuts in to business. You'll hear a lot about: "dealing wiht people at the worst moment in their lives" but that's supposedly a bit overblown. You do need to have the right personality for it.



Thanks for the feedback, minn.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby Campagnolo » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:53 pm

I work at a family law firm (in fact, I'm at work right now!).

Like any other field, family law attorneys run the gamut from terrible idiots to well-respected professionals. I am lucky enough to work for the latter. It seems like the firm hires an associate once every 4 or 5 years or so. Right now there are 4 partners and two associates. Quality of life seems pretty good (mainly 8-10 hour days). The partners do very well for themselves (billing about 1800 hours a year), but it's not like they are wealthy. If you want to be a solidly upper-middle class family in your 40s, and you don't have a ton of student debt, family law is all right.

All the attorneys here went to local schools and hire from their alma maters. I think, however, that this is simply a function of who applies to work at a small family law practice.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:54 pm

I only know two divorce attorneys from law school & both entered that area of practice after experiencing divorce during law school. To answer your question, I do not think that any law schools have a specific family law track beyond family law clinics or legal aid clinics.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:31 am

I have spent most of my career avoiding divorce practice. It's awful, just awful. You see people at their very worst, bitter, petty, vicious and self-centered and you get to watch while they damage their own children and destroy their own lives. I have seen actual custody fights over the family dog and I have heard of fights over a cabbage patch doll.

Most lawyers would rather undergo endoscopy without sedation than do a contested divorce with children. Most Judges feel about the same way.

However, since no one really likes to do the work there are opportunities to build a practice in family law. Three basic rules:

-Never, ever start a divorce case without at least a $5,000 cash retainer. Never EVER take a divorce pro bono. Period. Ever. And when the retainer runs out, withdraw unless the client tops it up within 48 hours of the last billing statement. Your heart must be made of tungsten carbide alloy to survive in this particular swamp. No sympathy for anyone ever.

-Do whatever it takes to keep professional distance between yourself and your increasingly wacko client. Bill for every phone call and bill double for after-hours calls. Get your client into counseling so she will express her hysteria/he will express his growing financial fears to someone besides you who is being paid to listen to the horseshit.

-Never, ever attempt to represent both sides in an "amicable" divorce. It can work but these arrangements often go sour and then you are stuck in a very bad place.
Last edited by BeautifulSW on Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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minnbills
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby minnbills » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:41 am

ditto on the cell phone thing, I've heard that quite a bit too.

areyouinsane
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby areyouinsane » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:49 am

-Never, ever start a divorce case without at least a $5,000 cash retainer. Never EVER take a divorce pro bono. Period. Ever. And when the retainer runs out, withdraw unless the client tops it up within 48 hours of the last billing statement. Your heart must be made of tungsten carbide alloy to survive in this particular swamp. No sympathy for anyone ever.

-Do whatever it takes to keep professional distance between yourself and your increasingly wacko client. Bill for every phone call and bill double for after-hours calls. Get your client into counseling so she will express her hysteria/he will express his growing financial fears to someone besides you who is being paid to listen to the horseshit.


LOL this is 100% true.

It's pretty hard to make a living as a solo doing family law, since many states now have no-fault divorce and streamlined procedures.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:27 am

One "advantage" to doing family law is that the vast majority of the work is done by solos and small firms. Law school rank and class standing don't much matter. All you really need are an active law license, office space, and a decent malpractice policy.

Low self-esteem probably helps, too. :roll:

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ck3
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby ck3 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:51 am

I am an adoptive parent so I have used an attorney for that purpose. If you can work with adoption agencies or the state, there are opportunities for doing adoptions. You make more off an adoption if the adoption is with a private agency but there are a large, large, large number of kids in foster care and a small percentage of those get adopted each year and the state hires the attorney. The reason I think there may be opportunities is because I live in Atlanta and the lawyer that the state hried for the children that I adopted was an old semi-retired guy from Savannah which is 4 hours away.

Their would be also be opportunities representing families who have had there kids taken by the state and are trying to get them back but you would not be able to charge very much on each case and going up against the state is more times than not a losing proposition. However, in the state of GA, the foster system is obligated by law to try to reunify foster children with their biological families and I think good representation and legal advice would help many of these families to be reunified with their children. However if you take this on you would need to be part social worker.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:47 pm

Another nice thing about starting a small family law firm, if you handle it right, is that you will get LOTS and LOTS of referrals from everybody else who doesn't want to do divorces.

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gaud
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby gaud » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:40 pm

I know a truly prestigious family 'divorce' attorney who told me to go to school for something else and pick up family law afterwards.

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NYC Law
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby NYC Law » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:44 pm

Funny thing about shit law is it looks like those are the ways to get the richest if you're actually REALLY good at it. The most successful family and personal injury attorneys make tons more than the most successful corporate law partners.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Divorce attorneys

Postby BeautifulSW » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:42 pm

If you are REALLY good at it and willing to go someplace that isn't already badly overlawyered. I know a very experienced divorce lawyer who swears that he accumulated a million dollars in practice. I know him fairly well and I think he's telling the truth but he did it in the very rural Desert Southwest.

I should also add that he's the single most energetic person I've ever met, even in his sixties. And very, very smart.




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