What is family law?
Family law is made up of three main areas of work: matrimonial, finance and child law. Many lawyers choose to specialise in either matrimonial law or child law, whilst others maintain a mixed client base.
What does a family lawyer do?
Family lawyers act on matters such as divorce and separation, child contact and adoption, Local Authority care orders and financial settlements.
When acting for a client seeking a divorce, family lawyers are engaged in taking initial details, gathering evidence including financial evidence, preparing the necessary documentation, negotiating settlements and contact or residency for children, referring to mediation and advocating for the client in hearings. The work may also include instructing Counsel and attending Counsel at court. Child law lawyers may also represent parties in care proceedings, for example, acting on behalf of parents or children or Local Authorities.
How to become a family lawyer?
As this is a very people-focused area of law, a non-judgmental attitude and genuine interest and care about the lives of others is vital. Family lawyers need to be able to inspire trust and show empathy, whilst remaining detached and remembering that the best way to help a client is by being an effective lawyer – not a counsellor or a social worker (other are better placed to fulfil those roles).
Excellent interviewing skills are needed and the ability to calm angry, upset or frightened clients whilst extracting the important pieces of information from them, is a skill that needs constant development. Negotiating with the other side is a key part of the job and a practical approach with good judgement (based on a firm grasp of family law) will go far.
Gaining work experience in family law
Gaining work experience at the local firm or Citizens Advise Bureau is the perfect way to get a taste for family law. Our Employability Service also offers support with this during your studies. The experience of working with real clients on a placement is invaluable. We work with employers to organise work experience opportunities nationally that could prove valuable in furthering your career.
We can also help you to get external placements in a range of not-for-profit organisations, providing members of the public with free legal advice and representation.
What is a family lawyer salary?
A newly qualified solicitor in a firm outside of the city or smaller family law practice may expect to earn around £20,000 to £40,000. An average family law solicitor salary in London is anything from £25,000 to £70,000 based on five years’ experience according to Reed.com. For those with over ten years' experience, earnings can range from £40,000 to £90,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too.
Study family law
To study family law and become a family lawyer, you must first gain a GDL or LLB then progress onto the LPC course or BPC. Check out ULaw law course offerings.
Useful information on family law
The Law Society – Has an accredited panel of solicitors specialising in family law.
Resolution – Join this national organisation of family lawyers.
Keep up with family and child law issues and news through: