Child Advocate Lawyer: Job Description & Schooling

Read for an overview on the responsibilities, education requirements, and salary expectations for child advocate lawyers. Get the facts on pursuing a career in this field. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Child Advocate Lawyer at a Glance

Child advocate lawyers defend the rights of children in a variety of different contexts, including juvenile delinquency cases, delivery of government services, housing, education, and medical care. They work for public, government, and nonprofit organizations and may defend clients directly or advocate for the improvement of policies. The table below is an overview of the education requirements and salary expectations for those pursuing a career in this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's and Juris Doctor (JD) degrees
License Bar exam in state of practice
Key Skills Complex problem solving; analytical skills; speaking
Median Annual Income (2018) $120,910 (for all lawyers)*
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for all lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Should I Study to Become a Child Advocate Lawyer?

To pursue a career as a child advocate lawyer, you must have both a bachelor's and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited university. After completing your bachelor's degree, you will need to study for and complete the LSAT examination in order to apply to law schools. It is recommended that, once in law school, you select courses that can give you a background on all aspects of children's rights and their intersection with the law (such as courses on family law, education law and juvenile justice).

What Kind of Organizations Do They Work For?

Nonprofit organizations may hire child advocate lawyers to represent children in individual cases or to advocate for the development of new legislation at the state or federal level that affects children's lives. Government agencies may hire lawyers to represent them in cases regarding delivery of children's services, or to write policies that relate to their proper implementation and improvement. Private firms sometimes consult on regulations related to children with government agencies, and may also represent children in individual cases related to education, guardianship, or their rights as they pertain to the delivery of government services.

What Kind of Cases Do They Get Involved In?

Child advocate lawyers may get involved in care and protection cases, where they argue for the intervention of the government when the primary caregiver of a child may be neglecting their basic needs or not providing adequate care. They may also represent children in education-related cases when a child's rights are not being fully respected in education settings (including mistreatment or adequate resources for certain disabilities). Another area of the law requiring the intervention of child advocate lawyers is juvenile justice, where they defend the right of due process and rehabilitation for minors accused of committing crimes.

Do Child Advocate Lawyers Need to Be Licensed?

In order to practice law in their chosen state, those who have completed their law degree must study for and complete the state's bar examination. Each state manages and enforces their own examination process with different study guides, examination dates and score requirements. It is important to check the relevant bar and licensing requirements in your state's bar website to get the most updated instructions.

What Are the Earnings Potential and Career Outlook?

Child advocate lawyers are included under the category for all lawyers at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their estimated median annual wage for 2018 was $120,910. In the same year, earnings potentials for lawyers differed depending on the type of employer, with those working in legal services and for the federal government having some of the highest median salaries ($122,150 and $145,160 respectively). Lawyers working for government agencies at the state level had a median annual salary of $86,900 in 2018. The BLS estimated the projected growth in job opportunities for all lawyers at 8% between 2016 and 2026.

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