Family law associate here to answer questions

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famlawatty

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Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:03 am

I was interested in family law in law school but didn't know anyone in the field and it seems nobody ever talks about it at career services. So thought I would answer questions here if anyone is interested. I've been practicing a few years and I enjoy it.

And I'm bored tonight...

Could probably answer general questions about what it's like working at a small firm vs. big firm as well. (I started at a big firm.)

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:07 am

What made you choose family law?. Could you not get into biglaw? Did you go to a nont14 school?

pocket herc

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby pocket herc » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:09 am

why post those questions anonymously?

famlawatty

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:What made you choose family law?. Could you not get into biglaw? Did you go to a nont14 school?


I went to T15-20. I was in biglaw briefly before moving to family law. I like family law bc I like having a person for a client rather than a corporation. I also like that I don't have to run my work by a ton of other people. I basically just file my own motions, etc. maybe with a once-over from my boss first. I prefer the hours to biglaw obviously. I enjoy hearing about people's relationship drama and rooting through their financial records. The work is just pretty interesting. And it's very fulfilling when you do a good job and a client gives you personal feedback. I feel a sense that the clients are really MY clients and I'm responsible for what happens, which I like.

pocket herc

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby pocket herc » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:20 am

damn, you just made family law sound very appealing. How competitive is it to gain employment in the field? Are the criteria similar to big law? What is sought in a candidate?

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romothesavior

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:21 am

1. Market?
2. Size of firm?
3. Approximate pay + bonuses?
4. Can you help me get a job?

Thanks for taking questions! We really appreciate it.

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schmohawk

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby schmohawk » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:23 am

famlawatty wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What made you choose family law?. Could you not get into biglaw? Did you go to a nont14 school?


I went to T15-20. I was in biglaw briefly before moving to family law. I like family law bc I like having a person for a client rather than a corporation. I also like that I don't have to run my work by a ton of other people. I basically just file my own motions, etc. maybe with a once-over from my boss first. I prefer the hours to biglaw obviously. I enjoy hearing about people's relationship drama and rooting through their financial records. The work is just pretty interesting. And it's very fulfilling when you do a good job and a client gives you personal feedback. I feel a sense that the clients are really MY clients and I'm responsible for what happens, which I like.


Actually, my former job required me to root through people's financial records and hear all about their drama, and I didn't like it. But, the more I think about it, it was probably because I was limited in my role as a banker. I can't tell you how many times I had to say "I can't help you there, you'll have to speak with an attorney". It sucked, because I did want to help.

Anyway, how's the pay? How do you bill your hours? I'm guessing you do a lot of divorce work, how's that?

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mnolen

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby mnolen » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:27 am

Thanks for taking question!

I'm working in a Family Court this summer and really enjoying it, and I'd like to work in family law eventually. What kind of work did you do for your summers during law school? How difficult did you find it to find work at a firm (big and small)? Most attorneys that I've seen seem to have their own practices, which of course is not feasible as a new grad, so I'm curious how to go about breaking into the field. I haven't heard of many large firms that handle family law cases, and I'm just not sure how easy it is to get into a small firm. Thanks again!

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:33 am

pocket herc wrote:damn, you just made family law sound very appealing. How competitive is it to gain employment in the field? Are the criteria similar to big law? What is sought in a candidate?


I think the hardest part about getting a job in family law is that there is usually no obvious "in". A lot of firms don't want to hire 1st years because they don't have the kind of budget that big firms do for training someone. Family law firms don't recruit at OCI. If you are a person with biglaw level grades and you are interested in family law, the hardest part about getting a job is just going to be finding an entry level opening. If someone is hiring, they will probably jump at the chance to get someone with biglaw credentials, provided you also seem to have good common sense and can interact with people. Ultimately I think networking is extremely helpful in family law, and I say this as someone who hates doing that kind of thing and never did it in law school. I wish I had done more of it. That is a big part of how I eventually got a job in the field as a young associate.

romothesavior wrote:1. Market?
2. Size of firm?
3. Approximate pay + bonuses?
4. Can you help me get a job?

Thanks for taking questions! We really appreciate it.


Major California city.

Very small firm. Less than 5 people. Most family law firms are small, although in big cities, you will get a few firms that are 10-20 people.

From my experience and talking to my friends, 1st-2nd year pay ranges anywhere from $65,000 to $85,000. Once you've been working 5-6 years it's maybe mid 100s and tops out somewhere in the mid-high 100s. (If you remain an associate. Obviously if you start your own firm or become partner there is more $). Bonuses, I don't know about other firms but mine are not very much. Enough to pay for my Christmas presents but I don't consider it a big part of my compensation.

The financial aspect is definitely my least favorite part. However, I also don't check my work email or voicemail at home and I work on weekends maybe once every couple months. That makes it worth it to me.

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romothesavior

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:39 am

Thanks for the responses. I know you said there are no "ins," but what is the best way to put yourself in a position for one of these jobs?

What is the firm culture like? Enjoyable?

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prezidentv8

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:41 am

[quote="pocket herc"]damn, you just made family law sound very appealing.[quote]

Seriously...

I just went to a family law discussion with some judges today too and family court sounds like a trip and a half

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:43 am

schmohawk wrote:Anyway, how's the pay? How do you bill your hours? I'm guessing you do a lot of divorce work, how's that?


Answered the pay question already... I do bill my hours, but I have no minimum billable requirement, which is awesome. I will probably bill around 1600 this year. Some of my friends at other firms have minimum billables, but I think the most I have heard someone being required to bill is 1800 hours.

Divorce stuff... like I said I enjoy it, but you need to have decent boundaries with your clients. Some clients are awesome and easy to work with but some can get difficult. Obviously there are lots of emotions involved. I think its important to assess, if you are thinking about working for a family law firm, what their approach is to their clients. Like are the attorneys willing to put their foot down and not take an unreasonable position even if the client is asking to, or will they just do whatever the client asks even if the client wants to go "scorched earth."

mnolen wrote:I'm working in a Family Court this summer and really enjoying it, and I'd like to work in family law eventually. What kind of work did you do for your summers during law school? How difficult did you find it to find work at a firm (big and small)? Most attorneys that I've seen seem to have their own practices, which of course is not feasible as a new grad, so I'm curious how to go about breaking into the field. I haven't heard of many large firms that handle family law cases, and I'm just not sure how easy it is to get into a small firm. Thanks again!


My 1L summer I worked in a family law related position and my 2L summer I did the biglaw summer associate thing. I think you already have a leg up if you are working in the field this summer, so that's great. You are right that not a lot of big firms do family law stuff, although even a lot of solo practitioners do have one associate. I would basically try to make connections with as many practitioners as you can and let them know that you are looking. You could also go to local family law bar events. Stay connected to the community -- in my city and I imagine most other places, it is a small community and practitioners talk amongst themselves if someone is looking to hire. Realistically, you might not be able to get a family law job right off the bat just because there are fewer openings for entry level positions, like I said above. If you can't get into family law immediately, focus on getting civil litigation experience because a lot of it will translate.

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romothesavior

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:46 am

General question: How fucked are all of us?

(Serious question... I want your opinion)

famlawatty

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:50 am

Thanks for the responses. I know you said there are no "ins," but what is the best way to put yourself in a position for one of these jobs?

What is the firm culture like? Enjoyable?


My firm culture is great. Very cordial, we all always eat lunch together, etc. This does vary widely though, with small firms. If you get stuck working for a small firm with a psycho head partner, you are going to be unhappy.

As for job getting... one thing that was very helpful to me was doing family law related volunteer work in law school. Not so much for the substantive experience, but I met people who were very connected to the community and who set up other informational interviews with me, etc. Really I think the most important thing would be to 1) demonstrate some interest in family law and 2) meet as many family law practitioners as you can. For me it was really almost a snowball effect. I met with one person for an informational interview, he referred me to other people he knew, and so on and so on, until everyone knew I was looking for a job. It all seems kind of pointless at first, until that day when someone calls you because they are looking to hire, and heard from a colleague that you have a great resume and are looking.

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:54 am

romothesavior wrote:General question: How fucked are all of us?

(Serious question... I want your opinion)


Hah. Depends on how much debt you all have?

As a fairly recent grad, I know many, many people who got fucked by the recession. Most of my friends laid off by biglaw as first years have now found jobs. Some of them were unemployed for a year, but they found jobs. I think most law school grads will still come out okay. Maybe not rich, but okay.

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:56 am

famlawatty wrote:
romothesavior wrote:General question: How fucked are all of us?

(Serious question... I want your opinion)


Hah. Depends on how much debt you all have?

As a fairly recent grad, I know many, many people who got fucked by the recession. Most of my friends laid off by biglaw as first years have now found jobs. Some of them were unemployed for a year, but they found jobs. I think most law school grads will still come out okay. Maybe not rich, but okay.


Good to hear.

Where did you go to law school? (tier would be okay)

famlawatty

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:01 am

Good to hear.

Where did you go to law school? (tier would be okay)


T15-20.

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romothesavior

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:03 am

famlawatty wrote:
Good to hear.

Where did you go to law school? (tier would be okay)


T15-20.


So UCLA or USC I'm guessing. Sweet.

Okay, I'll stop bombarding you with questions. :D Thanks a lot for your responses!

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:06 am

romothesavior wrote:
famlawatty wrote:
Good to hear.

Where did you go to law school? (tier would be okay)


T15-20.


So UCLA or USC I'm guessing. Sweet.

Okay, I'll stop bombarding you with questions. :D Thanks a lot for your responses!


Yeah, I almost just said that anyway since I figured it was pretty obvious. :) You are welcome for the responses and good luck!

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schmohawk

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby schmohawk » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:12 am

When the foot has been put down, what have been your clients' reactions? Do they walk? Or do they trust you since you are the all-knowing, wise attorney? I see what you're saying with setting the boundary and I think divorce work would be incredibly challenging in probably every instance, except for maybe those who get married every few years and can keep things cordial. Other than that, keeping your clients' emotions at bay seems hard as hell, but oddly enough, something that I probably would be good at doing. Hence, why I'm here. (No idea what road of law I wish to go into yet, but family law has entered my mind more than once. Thanks for answering questions).

famlawatty

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:20 am

When the foot has been put down, what have been your clients' reactions? Do they walk? Or do they trust you since you are the all-knowing, wise attorney? I see what you're saying with setting the boundary and I think divorce work would be incredibly challenging in probably every instance, except for maybe those who get married every few years and can keep things cordial. Other than that, keeping your clients' emotions at bay seems hard as hell, but oddly enough, something that I probably would be good at doing. Hence, why I'm here. (No idea what road of law I wish to go into yet, but family law has entered my mind more than once. Thanks for answering questions).


I would say the majority of clients come around (at least eventually) when you explain to them why their position is not going to get them anywhere. You do have to have a certain facility for acknowledging and validating people's crazy emotions, but not letting them bowl you over or envelop you. If you have a sense that you'd be good at it, you are probably right that you would be. There are clients that do insist on their way or the highway but they are more the exception than the rule.

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:25 pm

OP, thank you so much for this information. I am VERY interested in family law, and already have a 1L summer internship lined up in the field (as I talked about in another thread, hence my anonymous post :mrgreen: ). Tagging this to reference later!

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby legallyblonde27 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:41 pm

Do you think family law is a good area for a healthy work-life balance? I know you said you only come in to work about once every couple months on the weekends... Do you find yourself burning the midnight oil very often during the week?

Thanks for taking questions!

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby lallygag » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:55 pm

Just wanted to pop in and say thanks to the OP! It's refreshing to get insight on something other than biglaw.

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Re: Family law associate here to answer questions

Postby famlawatty » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:28 am

legallyblonde27 wrote:Do you think family law is a good area for a healthy work-life balance? I know you said you only come in to work about once every couple months on the weekends... Do you find yourself burning the midnight oil very often during the week?


The majority of the time I leave around 6:30. I work until 8 or 9 p.m. or so probably 5 days a month or maybe here and there I'll have a full week of doing that. It is very rare for me to work later than that. Like maybe once every couple months I will work until 11 p.m. or midnight.

Some of this of course depends on the firm, but I don't think you would regularly see a family law attorney pulling biglaw type of hours. The other associates I know well in the field have similar hours, although I have heard of firms that will work their young associates much longer hours. One nice thing about my situation is predictability. It's just not the type of thing where you frequently get called in on a crazy project with no notice. Sometimes clients have emergency situations where you go in ex parte to court and that creates unexpected work, but it hasn't happened very often for me. Overall, if I want to make evening and weekend plans I can make them and I can count on being able to not cancel them.

lallygag wrote:Just wanted to pop in and say thanks to the OP! It's refreshing to get insight on something other than biglaw.


You're welcome!



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