What Education Is Needed for a Career As a Divorce Lawyer?

Becoming a divorce lawyer takes seven years of formal higher education, including a four-year bachelor's degree and a three-year law degree. Read on to learn more about required education, skills and career statistics. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Divorce Lawyer Career Information

Divorce lawyers, also called family lawyers, specialize in legal cases that focus on issues that arise when a marriage is dissolved. They represent one spouse in defense against the other over issues such as asset allocation and child custody arrangements. Like all lawyers, divorce lawyers must graduate from law school and pass their state bar exam to earn a license to practice.

Important Facts about Studying to Be a Divorce Lawyer

Degree Level Professional degree
Common Courses Family Law, Housing Law, Estate Planning
Online Availability Online and hybrid programs are available, but few are accredited by the American Bar Association
Continuing Education Required to maintain license to practice; requirements vary by state

Required Education

There is no specific undergraduate degree necessary for a career as a divorce lawyer. Many divorce lawyers obtain bachelor's degrees in English, political science or sociology. They also benefit from multidisciplinary studies, which offer foreign language, public speaking, psychology and sociology courses. If a student already knows what particular aspect of law he or she is interested in, the student should pursue courses in that area as an undergraduate.

Upon receipt of a bachelor's degree, prospective divorce lawyers need to apply and be admitted to an accredited law school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most law schools judge applicants on their Law School Admission Test (LSAT), undergraduate grades, the quality of the applicants' undergraduate school and any relevant legal work experience. Foundational courses cover constitutional law, contracts, property law, torts, civil procedure and legal writing. The second half of law school is dedicated to specialized courses, such as divorce law. The law program culminates in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Licensure

Upon successful completion of law school and receipt of a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Lawyers must pass a written bar examination to practice law in their state. Most states also require lawyers to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) for admission to that jurisdiction's bar.

Job Skills

Overall, prospective divorce lawyers must have excellent written and savvy oral communication skills. They must also be able to research thoroughly, analyze efficiently and referee tumultuous relationships. Since divorce lawyers must often deal with financial conflicts, comfort with numbers and familiarity with accounting principles is recommended.

Occupational Statistics

The BLS reported that all lawyers could expect to see a 10% increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022. As of 2014, lawyers earned an average of $131,970 a year, though specific areas of expertise yielded varying incomes (www.bls.gov).

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