The steps taken to become a family lawyer are usually straightforward, but there are variations in each program. A family lawyer focuses on aiding families with an array of legal concerns. There is a multitude of specialties in family law including, but not limited to, adoption, divorce, neglect, abuse, child or spousal support, paternity, custody, and many other issues that families incur. A person seeking to become a family lawyer should familiarize themselves with the diverse areas of the practice. After thoroughly researching the field and deciding to become a family lawyer, there are chronological phases required in order to practice law.
The education requirements to become a family lawyer are a bachelor's degree, a law degree, and successful completion of the state bar exam, which evaluates the applicant's skills and proficiency to practice law in that particular jurisdiction. Many universities offer pre-law studies for students that provide a variety of courses that focus on different elements of law. Students should also take courses in psychology, sociology, and counseling to enhance his or her understanding of family functionality. These courses are offered at most universities and are usually beneficial for students who would like to excel in family law.
The course of action after receiving either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, preferably in pre-law studies, is to choose a law school based on the availability of a family law program. A Juris Doctorate (J.S.) is the lowest degree required to practice law, and focuses on studying general law procedures. Most students find the Master of Laws (LLM) to be a desirable degree program because it requires the student to focus on a specific legal area, such as family law. The LLM offers subcategories of family law for students who are primarily interested in a specific area, such as child and family law mediation or partnership taxation.
Most law students take the state bar exam after graduation, and the guidelines are different for each state. This is the final step in becoming a family lawyer, and draws upon the course work and knowledge gained in law school. Internships are usually offered while a student is still in school and should be chosen based on whether or not the firm has a family law division. In order to become a family lawyer, previous studies, training, and experience should have aspects of family law as its primary focal point.