Most private-sector family lawyers work in small law firms or in solo practices. Some large law firms have divisions that focus on matrimonial law or other family law issues for high-wealth individuals, or they have a few lawyers on staff who are experts in this area. In the public sector, family lawyers often work at the state or local levels, focusing on issues such as child welfare or juvenile delinquency. They are employed in public defender’s offices, legal services offices, state’s attorney’s offices, public guardian’s offices, and departments of children and family services. Family lawyers also work for nonprofit children’s law centers and social-service organizations.
Law students can learn about job opportunities via their law school’s career services office, industry publications and Web sites, networking events, and membership in professional associations, and by contacting law firms, government agencies, and organizations that specialize in family law issues. They can also find job leads via contacts made through internships, clerkships, volunteering, and information interviews.
Family lawyers advance by earning higher salaries, moving up to managerial positions (such as supervisory or managing attorney), becoming partners in the firms they work for, or opening up their own firms. Some teach family law at colleges and universities; others become family law judges, arbitrators, or mediators.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as Student Lawyer, Family Advocate, Family Law Quarterly, Family Law Litigation, Child Law Practice, Children’s Rights Litigation, and the Children’s Legal Rights Journal to learn more about the field.
The American Bar Association offers the Directory of Children’s Law Programs at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/childrens-rights/directory, which lists children’s law employers throughout the United States. Use the directory to learn about potential employers in your state.
Use the NALP Directory of Legal Employers (http://www.nalpdirectory.com) to search for employers by location, employer type, practice areas, and other criteria.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend industry conferences to network and to interview for jobs.