This year, more than 30,000 students will graduate from law schools across the country. Many will walk in cap and gown in the next month, with looming questions of where to go from there. The big secret about law school is that it teaches you to think like a lawyer but does not prepare you for the practice of law. So, a significant percentage of law students walk out with a Juris Doctor degree and no idea what kind of lawyer they should be. For me there was no question – I was going to be a family law attorney.
When other lawyers find out I practice family law, they frequently ask how I do it. It is true that family law can be challenging. It is a unique blend of complex legal principles and difficult personal situations. That is part of its appeal. From a legal perspective, family law appeals to my inner nerd. Imagine all the elements that are part of family life, from the personal to the financial – family lawyers deal with it all. Not only do we need to stay on top of ever-changing principles of family law practice, we also have to maintain a working knowledge of tax law, estates, property, criminal law, business organizations and even personal injury. A family attorney is forever on their toes and certainly never bored. A constant thirst for more knowledge is a must.
Unlike other areas of practice, the practice of family law offers an array of legal experiences. Sometimes, we are transaction attorneys writing contracts with precision. In other situations, we are masters of persuasive writing, comparing the unique facts of our client’s life to case law and statute in furtherance of our client’s goals. We are also skilled litigators, presenting arguments before the Court, answering difficult questions and tearing apart the arguments of our adversaries. Often, we are all these things in the same week.
Most importantly, however, family law is rewarding in a way no other legal practice can be. It is the people you meet that make the practice of family law worthwhile. Our clients are going through some of the most difficult times in their lives. The situations are deeply personal, the future uncertain. They need empathy, guidance, and reassurance. Being a family law attorney puts me in the enviable position of knowing I can help people every single day, even if only with an understanding word or an answer to a burning question about the future. Why would I choose to do anything else?
To those thousands of law school graduates seeking direction in the coming weeks, I urge you to consider the practice of family law. Our field needs intelligent, assertive, empathetic people who long for the gratification of helping others. Every day something happens to remind me that I made the right choice; you will not regret the decision to join our ranks.