- What do family lawyers do?
- Family lawyer career path
- Family lawyer salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Family lawyer skills
- Pros and cons of being a family lawyer
- Family lawyer work life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
Are you interested in working in the law? Do you love negotiating? If you want to combine your interest in the law with your desire to help individuals and families, a career as a family lawyer could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in a career as a family lawyer? Explore the commercial law sector jobs open for applications right now.
What do family lawyers do?
Family law is a branch of the legal system that deals with disputes and other legal complications within families. Within family law, you could work in divorce, child custody, adoption, emancipation of children and many other areas related to family groups. Whilst family law is technically an area of civil law meaning no punishments lead to criminal charges and imprisonment, it is a standalone area of the legal system.
Lawyers working in family law are typically solicitors. As a solicitor in family law, here are your tasks and responsibilities:
- Meet with clients and discuss their specific cases, understanding why they need your help and what you can do to assist them.
- Research the area of law that your client needs help with so you can find relevant recent and historic cases.
- Draft, write and proofread legal documents.
- Build up legal cases.
- Represent your client in court.
Family lawyer career path
Working as a family lawyer requires a similar career path to other areas of the law. Since you work in a legal firm, you’re exposed to other legal jobs. If you want to work with law but want to take a step back from court hearings and client relations, you could become a paralegal. If you enjoy working with the law but don’t want to work in family law, you could become a corporate lawyer or a criminal lawyer. Here is the career path that you could follow as a family solicitor:
You begin your career with a training contract. This is an educational role where you learn the necessary skills that you need for your career and apply the academic knowledge you’ve learned from your education to the job. Your work is highly monitored during your training contract and it often comes with lots of work and long working hours.
With experience and once you’ve finished your legal training, you become a practising family lawyer. In this role, you have more responsibility and the freedom to work on your own legal cases. You build up a client base and provide legal advice to them when they need it.
After years of practising law, you can work your way up to being a partner in a law firm. This requires taking a step back from dealing with legal cases. Instead, you have a more managerial role. You look into the performance of departments, making sure they’re working well and your colleagues are happy. You deal with clients on a higher level. Rather than giving out advice and representing them in court, you liaise with them and try to encourage them to return to the firm if they need legal advice in the future.
Family lawyer salaries
Family solicitors can be well paid representatives in the legal sector. The specific salary you earn depends on the firm you work for and your experience and skill level. Here are the salaries that you could earn in your career as a family solicitor:
- In an entry-level training contract position, you could earn between £25,000 and £35,000 per year.
- As a mid-level family solicitor, you earn between £30,000 and £40,000 per year.
- In a more senior role, you earn between £40,000 and £60,000 per year.
- As a partner in a law firm, you could earn beyond £100,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
The legal sector is a competitive area to get into. Having the right education and experience is a great way to impress a hiring manager and secure a permanent job. Here are the qualifications and training that you need to be a family solicitor:
To get into the sector, you need an undergraduate degree in law, known as an LLB. This is so you have the wide theoretical and contextual background knowledge that you need for your career. However, it’s possible to have an undergraduate degree in a subject other than law and then complete a one or two year law conversion course.
Once you’ve completed your education, you move on to a training contract. This is an educational part of your working life where you learn how to be a solicitor in a practical and vocational way. You can explore the training contracts available to you with the Law Careers’ training contract search tool.
When you’ve finished your training contract, you need to complete an exam before you can be a fully qualified, practising family law solicitor. Doing a Legal Practice Course (LPC) is one way to qualify as a solicitor.
Since the legal sector is highly competitive, having some work experience alongside your education helps you show a hiring manager that you are a great candidate. One way of getting work experience is through an internship. Internships teach you the practical skills that you need for a career in law and show you what it’s like working in a legal firm. If you’re interested in doing an internship, you can explore the commercial law internships and the criminal and human rights law internships available now.
Family lawyer skills
Demonstrating your skills can help you get a great job as a family solicitor. In your applications, you can include how you’ve demonstrated or gained certain skills throughout your academic and professional life. Here are the skills that you need for a career as a family lawyer:
- Family law knowledge. As a representative for your client, you need great legal knowledge. You should have a good overview of the family area of law but also a more specialised understanding of a specific part, for example divorce.
- Negotiation. Part of your job as a family solicitor is sitting down with opposing legal teams to discuss the legal case. To get your client the best deal you can, you should be able to negotiate well.
- Communication. You need great communication skills to be a family lawyer. This is so you can inform your clients of legal proceedings but also so you can act as a representative for your client and win cases. You should be able to change your communication style based on who you’re talking to. This means using technical legal terminology when talking to colleagues and opposing legal teams, but also explaining the terminology to clients in an understandable way.
- Empathy. Some of the clients you work with will be going through a really difficult time in their lives. This may make working with them a bit more tricky. Having some empathy and making the client feel welcomed and not judged is a great way to gain their trust and respect whilst working with them.
If you need some help in changing your communication style to match your audience, complete this module on adapting your communication style.
Pros and cons of being a family lawyer
As with every career path, there are positive and negative parts of being a solicitor in family law. Understanding the good and bad helps you decide if it’s the right career for you. Here are the pros and cons of being a family solicitor:
- It’s very satisfying when you win a legal case for your client.
- Your clients may refer their friends or acquaintances to you if you do a good job, making finding new clients relatively easy.
- Your work is generally quite varied and you get to work on new cases throughout your working life.
- You can earn a large salary if you become a top lawyer.
- Your professional reputation and how you’re addressed at work comes from the success of your legal cases. A poor track record could be detrimental to your career, so there is often a lot of pressure to win cases.
- Some areas of your work might be distressing. You may deal with child emancipation or divorce due to domestic abuse which can be upsetting.
- It’s a highly competitive sector to get into.
- Since it’s expensive to complete a degree and the salary for training contracts is relatively low, the career path can be less accessible to people from lower income backgrounds.
Family lawyer work-life balance
Being a family lawyer can be a stressful job. This is because of the emotional aspect of the work coupled with the long working hours and deadlines in quick succession. Maintaining a good work-life balance may be difficult and leave you feeling the stress and strain of the work.
You may find that you face criticism in your career, particularly in the training stages. If you want to be prepared to handle potential critical feedback in your career, complete this module on resilience and taking feedback.
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