Family law – sometimes known as matrimonial law – is a practice area concerning legal issues and domestic relations between family members. Much of family law concerns marital, civil, and domestic partnerships, as well as the termination of these relationships, including matters such as:
• Divorce and annulment
• Child custody, support and visitation rights
• Ancillary relief
• Property and financial settlements
Other types of family law include:
• Childcare and protection
• Domestic violence
• Prenuptial agreements
• Juvenile law
While some Family Lawyers choose to specialise, many enjoy the variety that the broader practice area provides.
Family Lawyers are responsible for dealing with legal issues that arise between members of the same family. They represent clients in court for contentious cases concerning divorce and domestic violence, but also oversee family estates and offer advice on areas such as adoption and guardianship.
Family Lawyers work with a range of clients including vulnerable individuals such as children and the elderly, advising them on their options and rights. The duties of a family law practitioner can vary greatly from case to case; however, the key responsibilities of a Family Lawyer usually include:
• Attempting to resolve complex claims and reach settlement outside of court through alternative dispute resolution.
• If no settlement can be reached, proceeding the case in court, representing your clients and carrying out all duties associated with Dispute Resolution or Litigation Lawyers.
• Drafting, negotiating, and reviewing court documents such as pleadings or witness statements.
• Liaising with a variety of other professionals including psychologists, doctors, social workers, and police officers.
• Researching historic cases that bare resemblance to your ongoing files.
• Examining and evaluating any evidence that may prove beneficial to your clients.
• Effectively and empathetically managing emotionally unpredictable situations.
As with becoming a Lawyer in other practice areas, you will first need to complete your undergraduate degree in law followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC). If you studied a subject other than law at university, you must undertake a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before you can begin studying the LPC.
Following completion of the LPC, you will need to apply for a training contract at a specialist family practice or with a family law team in a multi-service firm.
Read our article on How to Become a Solicitor to find out more.
Training contracts are often highly competitive, so for your best chance at success, highlight on your CV the relevant modules you took during your studies and keep up to date with the latest developments and landmark cases in family law.
Additionally, relevant legal work experience such as that gained via a vacation scheme or court marshalling can benefit your career goal of becoming a Family Lawyer.
The dedicated Law Graduates section of our blog includes further CV, interview, and careers advice for those applying for training contracts.
Once qualified, you will be able to work for a specialist family law firm or within the family law team of a larger practice.
So, that covers the education and qualification requirements of the role, but what about the skills needed to become a Family Lawyer? For a successful career, you will need the following:
• Aptitude in client-facing matters and exceptional communication skills.
• The ability to empathise while remaining professional.
• The ability to cope with emotionally taxing situations.
• Passion for helping people and fostering relationships.
• Strong drafting and negotiating skills.
• Sound research skills.
• Understanding and experience of litigation and other dispute resolution methods.
• The ability to explain legal matters to clients with little or no legal knowledge.
• The ability to work with people of all ages from all walks of life, including children and the elderly.
So, how much do Family Lawyers make?
The results of our 2021 Audience Insight Report revealed that the average Family Lawyer salary in the UK is £53,750 per year. This figure can vary significantly dependent on several factors such as location, PQE level and employer.
This salary represents massive growth of 68% since 2019. It may be that domestic disputes and divorces resulting from months of lockdown have given rise to increased demand and salaries for these professionals.
Download your free copy of our 2021 Audience Insight Report to discover more.
We hope that our Family and Divorce Lawyer job description article has helped you to find out whether the role is right for you.
Ready to apply? Browse the latest Family Lawyer jobs on TotallyLegal today, refining your search by location, salary band, PQE level and more to find the vacancies most suited to your search.
We also advertise Family Law jobs for other legal professionals including Solicitors, Paralegals, Legal Secretaries and more.