LAW FAMILY LAW
Reading Time: 6 min
What is Family Law?
This is the body of laws that regulates family relationships, including marriage and divorce, the treatment of children, and related economic matters. This practice area encompasses all the legal issues that families may face. Some of the issues they may cover include child custody, division of assets and liabilities due to divorce, adoption termination of parental rights, paternity, dependency and child neglect and protection from abuse.
Family law also includes pre-nuptial agreements before marriage, with some family lawyers who can specialise in adoption, paternity, reproductive rights, emancipation and other matters not associated with divorce.
The Leading Firms in this Area
The following firms in the UK come recommended for their expertise in the area of family law:
- Farrer & Co
- Brookman Solicitors
- Duncan Lewis Solicitors
- Family Law in Partnership LTD
- Mishcon de Reya
- Dawson Cornwell
- Penningtons Manches Cooper
- Wilson Solicitors
- Latitude Law
- Trent Law Solicitors
What does the Work Involve?
For lawyers that are family lawyers, their work will involve anything and everything related to the family. This means that there is a great deal of variety. One day, their work might be advising a client on a divorce and separation matter. On another day, the work may change to having to deal with matters relating to domestic abuse. Another day could be them dealing with issues about children.
Responsibilities of a Family Lawyer
As we have already highlighted, family lawyers are good at assisting clients with legal matters involving everything that looks or smells like a family matter. But what responsibilities do they have when charged with meeting their purpose?
- Meet and communicate with clients
- Devise and communicate strategies
- Handle cases from inception till post-trial
- Draft, finalize and customize pleadings, and other legal documents
- Supervise and delegate work to paralegals and other team members
- Prepare for and attend court hearings, mediations and other meetings
- They are also charged with communicating with opposing lawyers, court personnel, and others professionally and respectfully.
- Have the client’s best interest
Typical Day of a Family Lawyer
There’s no straightforward answer to the above topic because of the varied nature of a family lawyer. On each given day, a family lawyer may encounter a whole new problem to solve on behalf of his or her clients, this could be helping the client get protection from domestic abuse helping the government get a child off the neglecting parents working out the dissolution of a marriage.
It can make getting through your to-do list quite challenging. Like their criminal law counterparts, family law lawyers can expect to spend quite a bit of time in courts as a major part of the work they undertake is usually contentious. Thus a typical day might involve the lawyers preparing for the case coming up the next day or reviewing their submissions for the day. When family lawyers are not dealing with court-related matters, their day will involve negotiating issues, placing and taking phone calls from the clients and other involved parties and drafting documents, and so on.
According to UK.jobted.com, the average salary for a family lawyer in the UK is £56,700 gross per year or £3,450 net per month. Their data further provides that this pay is £27,100 (+92%) higher than the UK’s national average salary.
On average, a family lawyer can expect to earn a starting salary of £27,200, with the highest salaries known to exceed £140,000.
If your training contract is at a top family law firm, you could earn more than this with your salary being between £25,000 and £35,000 a year.
A mid-level family solicitor on average earns about £54,700 per year. As with other areas of law, as the family lawyer advances, his or her pay increases.
To become a top-notch family lawyer in this area, you should develop the following skills:
- First-rate interviewing skill: Family lawyers are known to meet a variety of clients, and for each of those clients he or she will need to have the ability to elicit information from clients who may be under immense stress
- A practical approach: Rather than living in ‘la la land of just theories and ideas, a top family lawyer will look for the best solutions for their client’s issue that are rooted in reality
- Have a non-judgmental attitude
- A genuine interest in helping people
- Empathy for the client’s case and perspectives.
- Great interpersonal skills
Work-Life Balance in Family Law
It has been said that if you want to practise as a family lawyer you should be conversant with meditation; we’ll go as far as saying you should know more than one or two techniques because you’ll need them. The practice of family law can sometimes be a bedlam of stress, confusion, anxiety, self-doubt and worry. This is a result of a few reasons
First, family lawyers are known to work long hours and have multiple deadlines to meet in quick succession. Second, there are a lot of emotions attached to the practice. Would you not feel like tearing up when you’re dealing with a case where the child has been neglected and severely malnourished? For these reasons and more, enjoying a reasonable work/life balance in most cases might be far-fetched.
The life of a Budding Family Lawyer
If you have been employed by a solicitor firm or chambers as a trainee or pupil it means that they think you’re trustworthy – a trait that is particularly important in family law. Your firm might entrust you with the tasks of
- Drafting, writing and proofreading documents including clients’ statements.
- Helping senior members build the case of your firm’s clients
- Researching the area of law that the client needs help with so you can find relevant recent and historic cases.
- Attending court hearings with the lawyer and client
How Do I Become One?
The route of becoming a family lawyer depends on whether you want to practise as a solicitor or barrister.
If you want to be a solicitor, the traditional route is to get a law degree or a related degree, take the LPC – by 2032, the LPC will be completely phased out – and the SQE if you have a non-law degree. After the SQE you’ll need to get a TC at an employing family law firm.
If you want to be a barrister, the route is the same as above, except that, instead of taking the LPC you take the BPTC, instead of the SQE you take the GDL for those without a law degree. The work experience you need is a pupillage instead of a TC at a chambers good in this practice area.
Who Might be a Good Fit?
Do you believe that you have commitment, creativity and a high level of professionalism? If so then this career path might be a good fit for you. Cases in family law usually drag on for like ages – *cough, cough divorce* and you’d need to have the commitment and resilience to stay the course. Getting some family issues like child custody sorted might keep bumping into a wall until creativity is introduced. So you’ll do well to have these traits
Developments in the Sector
This is the most talked about development in this sector, and rightly so. The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which come into effect on 6 April 2022, introduced “no-fault” divorce for married and civil partnership couples.
The Act is undoubtedly the biggest shake-up in divorce law for more than half a century in the UK. It puts to an end the need for couples who want to separate couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage (through relying on the other’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour), helping them to instead focus on key practical decisions involving custody of the children or their finances.
Increase in Revenue
In the family law market, it was estimated that there was an increase in revenue by 4.1% in 2021. This revenue was driven primarily by a strong increase in financial remedy matters needing legal advice and growth in advice for high net-worth individuals plus international cases.
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
Congrapps is the №1 Platform for Verified Successful Career Resources! We collected the actual Cover Letters & Interview Experiences of those who made it to the most competitive graduate and entry-level jobs in Banking, Finance, Consulting and Law in London.
We help graduates achieve their dreams by levelling the playing field and giving access to the same information to everyone!