Let's Talk Family Law

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
FamilyLawEsq
Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:30 pm

Let's Talk Family Law

Postby FamilyLawEsq » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:05 pm

I am a family law practioner with 30+ years of experience located in the mid-Atlantic region willing to share what I know and don't know about the practice of family law.

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Yukos
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Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:47 pm

Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby Yukos » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:56 pm

Thanks for taking questions, family law is possibly the least represented kind of law on TLS.

Does your firm or firms like yours generally hire students straight out of law school? If not, what's a common way for grads to get experience in family law -- it doesn't seem like biglaw would offer much training.

Persia
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Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:38 pm

Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby Persia » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:55 pm

How did you decide to go into family law? Do you find it difficult to deal with emotional issues such as divorce and child custody on a regular basis?

FamilyLawEsq
Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:30 pm

Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby FamilyLawEsq » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:47 pm

Back in the dark ages, most of us were general practicioners when we graduated from law school. Family law was only a portion of our practice. As the divorce rates increased, and women began to flood the workforce in the 1980's, attorneys who handled primarily divorce cases increased. Our local bar association has over 500 lawyers of which at least 10% practice family law exclusively.

Family law not only encompasses divorce, custody and support issues but also includes adoptions and juvenile matters. Recent graduates can get hired right out of law school but I can not address whether this is true in "big law." I do know that a lot of larger firms simply do not want to handle divorce matters because they are not money makers. Family law lawyers are typically found in small and mid size firms. When I say mid size I mean not more than 75 lawyers. One of the most respected family law attorneys in Philadelphia is in a business with just one associate. He charges $400 per hour and obviously lives well.

Quite frankly, 80% of the people on TLS are NOT going to be in Big Law or Big Gov, they are going to be located in the rest of the country in the areas where they were raised or in the area where their law school is located. I am sure there are many lurkers on this site who have never posted because they have been marginalized by those who are Big Law or bust.

If one is interested in family law, I recommend that you take the following courses, in addition to family law: Tax, Accounting, Wills & Trusts, Civil or Criminal Trial Practice, Real Estate and Evidence. If the law school offers mediation or a clinic that is family law related, that would be helpful. As a divorce lawyer you will be handling real estate matters, and preparing a new will for your client. You will be reviewing tax returns to determine if income is being hidden, or whether the depreciation being taken is appropriate. Most importantly, family law is not transactional in nature, it is litigation at its best and worst. And you will be thrown in the deep end of the pool immediately. That is why clerking for a local judge or being an ADA or PD is quite helpful in transitioning to a family law position.

If you are not willing to listen to people you have no business being a divorce lawyer. I tell my clients that a divorce truly is about the numbers and that is my job to work toward a financial conclusion. So, I focus on the numbers. With custody cases, it can be a free for all. Just know that most clients are not truthful. They do not overtly lie, they just simply "forget" to tell you the whole story. Dealing with the emotional end of custody is a skill learned over time. I can't imagine doing anything else but family law.

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BlueLotus
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Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:59 am

^This is gold. Thanks for making this thread, FamilyLawEsq. There is definitely a death of information about this practice area on TLS.

Will clerking for a Court of Common Pleas judge benefit someone wanting to go into family law? Hiring-wise, are the small/mid-size firms specializing in family law as concerned with grades/LR as BigLaw? I'm doing a juvenile rights clinic, so that should hopefully be a plus in case I don't make LR/end up with outstanding grades.

FamilyLawEsq
Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:30 pm

Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby FamilyLawEsq » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:44 pm

BlueLotus wrote:^This is gold. Thanks for making this thread, FamilyLawEsq. There is definitely a death of information about this practice area on TLS.

Will clerking for a Court of Common Pleas judge benefit someone wanting to go into family law? Hiring-wise, are the small/mid-size firms specializing in family law as concerned with grades/LR as BigLaw? I'm doing a juvenile rights clinic, so that should hopefully be a plus in case I don't make LR/end up with outstanding grades.


Many of the law clerks in our county do transition to family law but then again we have 7 judges assigned to the family law division, representing almost 50% of our judges. There is alot of family law work out there. And there will most likely be more work as the gay and lesbian couples will be getting married (and divorced) in more states due to the DOMA ruling. A growing area within the family law arena is juvenile deliquency and dependency. Many young lawyers can supplement their private practice by being appointed as a GAL (guardian ad litem) for children and teenagers and be paid by the county.

Being a law clerk, starting out in the DA or PD office is more important to us than law review. You will immediately be in the courtroom, so trial practice and moot court are invaluable.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Let's Talk Family Law

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:11 am

FamilyLawEsq, what school did you attend? (Feel free to just list the range, i.e. T14, T30, T1, etc.)

What was your career trajectory? Did you start out as a PD/ADA?




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