What Is the Average Salary for a Family Lawyer?
Research what it takes to become a family lawyer. Learn about job duties, education requirements, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is a Family Lawyer?
Family lawyers are attorneys who specialize in helping families navigate difficult legal issues, such as divorce, guardianship, custody, adoption and visitation rights. As a family lawyer, you might also deal with pre-nuptial agreements for couples who are about to get married. Some of your duties as a family lawyer will include drawing up legal documents and handling the paperwork related to these issues. You will also represent your clients during negotiations or legal proceedings, which often requires interacting with other attorneys. Explore the earnings potential of family lawyers and learn about career requirements for this field by taking a look at the table below:
|Degree Required||Juris Doctor|
|Key Responsibilities||Negotiate pre- and post-nuptial agreements, solve custody disputes, manage divorce proceedings|
|Licensure||State licensure is required|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||6% (for all lawyers)*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$144,230 (for all lawyers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Family Lawyer Earnings
An average salary figure for family lawyers isn't readily available. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2018 that the average salary for all lawyers was $144,230. Pay for lawyers can vary according to location and the type of employer. Additionally, lawyers tend to earn more as partners in law firms than in their own practices.
Many people think of family lawyers as divorce attorneys; in reality, this is only part of a larger picture. As a family lawyer, you may also handle arrangements for pre- and postnuptial agreements, child support and custody disputes. Your work may include some crossover with other areas of law, such as criminal and civil law.
Dealing with real estate, wills, annuities and trust funds is also within a family lawyer's domain. You may meet with clients and discuss how to handle these issues or act as a mediator between two or more different clients in relation to a will or an inheritance. Family law attorneys often consult with other law professionals in constructing a case and gathering relevant information.
Education and Other Requirements
In order to be a lawyer, you must complete a bachelor's degree program and then a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. Some schools allow you to concentrate in family law. Family law concentrations cover topics including domestic violence, ethics, child advocacy, marital property, elder care and estate planning. Aspiring family lawyers also gain interviewing, negotiating and counseling skills. Some schools award a certificate upon completion of the concentration, in addition to the J.D.
Upon completing law school, you can sit for your state's bar exam. Passing the bar exam is required to earn state licensure. Other licensure requirements can vary by state; for instance, the BLS reports that some states may also require you to pass an ethics test or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
You are capable of practicing many areas of law with a law degree, though it is helpful to have completed specific coursework and work experience in whatever area you are interested in before finding a job. You may find that you have a particular interest in tax law, which involves working with individuals and companies to help them remain in compliance with tax codes and laws. Litigation is another possible specialty, which involves handling legal disputes over issues like personal injury or real estate.