What Is the Average Salary for a Family Lawyer?
These specialty lawyers help families navigate difficult legal issues, such as divorce, guardianship and visitation rights. Explore the earning potential of family lawyers, and learn about education and licensure requirements for this career. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Family Lawyer Earnings
An average salary figure for family lawyers isn't readily available. However, PayScale.com reported in May 2011 that the middle half of family lawyers earned $48,353-$77,968 annually. This was a lower range than those reported by PayScale.com for other areas of law such as litigation or corporate acquisitions. Lawyers in general, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tend to earn more as partners in law firms than in their own practices (www.bls.gov).
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.
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