If you are good at counseling and negotiating and want to work closely with clients, often in emotionally charged situations, you may want to consider a career in family law or child advocacy.
Lawyers practicing in this area mediate, advise and litigate a wide variety of issues in many areas, including estate planning, divorce, spousal support, parental rights, custody, child support, paternity, dependency, neglect and adoption.
These diverse and varied opportunities make family law and children’s rights advocacy attractive areas of practice for potential applicants. faculty of Law students. Regardless of economic trends, the political landscape or political and regulatory changes, family law remains an area of practice in constant need of dedicated lawyers.
If you are considering pursuing a career in this field, consider schools that offer specialized training and clinical options when choose a law school, and take advantage of opportunities to gain relevant experience.
Schools offering specialized training and programming
Most law schools offer courses in family law and related fields, allowing students to learn the basics. Additionally, some law schools have course options or specialized training programs that allow students to focus on family law and learn this area of law in more depth.
For example, students from Faculty of Law of ColombiaJD’s JD program can choose from a wide variety of courses in family law and related practice areas. Topics covered include basic and advanced family law and domestic violence, for example. Columbia also hosts an annual conference on the defense of the rights of the child and the family.
Several other schools offer an area of concentration in family law. At Maurer Law School at Indiana University — Bloomington, for example, if students focus on family law, they will study key issues such as divorce, same-sex marriage, abortion, gender roles and the division of property.
These schools also provide students with the opportunity to participate in organizations and activities related to family law, such as the Child & Family Law Association in DePaul and the Family Law Society in Indiana. These organizations allow engagement in subject matter beyond the confines of the classroom.
Schools with related clinic options
In addition to concentrations, courses and specialized programming, clinics provide an excellent opportunity for law students to gain practical experience in handling cases and defending clients’ rights in specific areas of law.
Many of the schools mentioned above also offer clinical options in family law and related fields of study. Columbia, for example, has a few clinics in areas such as adolescent representation, sexuality and gender law, and incarceration, all of which touch on family law issues.
Many other schools that do not offer a concentration or concentration in family law provide students with experiential learning opportunities and clinical options.
Harvard Law School, for example, offers a family law and domestic violence law clinic. the University of Virginia Law School has a family law clinic that focuses on mediation, negotiation, and creative problem solving as alternative conflict resolution methods to resolve conflict in families.
the New York University School of Law offers the Family Defense Clinic and the Minors Defense Clinic. The first focuses its action on preventing the unnecessary break-up of indigent families and helping to reunite families affected by the family placement system. In the latter clinic, the students represent minors accused of having committed crimes.
In addition to choosing a school that offers many family law courses, programs, and clinics, you should also think about other ways to create a path to a successful career in this field.
• Undergraduate courses: Consider a major or minor in subjects like psychology or human development. Any course that focuses on developing interpersonal skills or understanding how people think and function in life will help you thrive as a family lawyer.
• Internship and volunteering: Look for internship or volunteer opportunities for organizations that advocate for families or children, or seek to strengthen key skills, such as counseling and oral communication. You could look for internships in family court, for example, or for social service providers. Another option might be to follow lawyers who practice family law.
Whatever you choose to do, take the time to determine if you enjoy working closely with people in stressful and emotionally trying situations.
• Find mentors: Network with practitioners in the field and seek advice and guidance. Develop relationships of trust in which you can honestly examine your suitability for this kind of work.
• Self-taught: Stay on top of current trends in family law by reading related legal publications such as Family Law Quarterly and Family Advocate. As cultural norms change and the definition of family evolves, so does the field. It is in your best interest to keep yourself informed of developments.
If you are considering a career in family law and related fields, consider specialty programs and clinical opportunities when choosing a law school. In addition, you should get involved in related organizations and seek to gain significant and relevant experience in order to be an attractive clinical candidate and to be well placed for employment prospects in law school and beyond. .