What is family law?

Family law is made up of three main areas of work: matrimonial, finance, and child law. Many lawyers choose to specialize in either matrimonial law or child law, whilst others maintain a mixed client base. It can also cover domestic violence, guardianship, child abuse, and neglect. Other matters might include inheritance law, retirements, pension, and other benefits.

What does a family lawyer do?

Family lawyers act on matters such as divorce and separation, child contact and adoption, Local Authority care orders, and financial settlements.

When acting for a client seeking a divorce, lawyers are engaged in taking initial details, gathering evidence including financial evidence, preparing the necessary documentation, negotiating settlements and contact or residency for children, referring to mediation, and advocating for the client in hearings. The work may also include instructing Counsel and attending Counsel at court. Child law lawyers may also represent parties in care proceedings, for example, acting on behalf of parents or children or Local Authorities.

They can also advise with pre-nuptial agreements before marriage to protect someone’s financial interest, advise on the grounds of divorce, or civil partnership dissolution. Some family lawyers can specialize in adoption, paternity, reproductive rights, emancipation, and other matters not associated with divorce. They are also responsible for overseeing family properties, monitoring mediation meetings, and offering legal advice.

Most lawyers have expertise in some practice areas, including housing law, meditation and collaboration law, and immigration and asylum law.

Study family law

To study family law and become a family lawyer, you must first gain a PGDL or LLB then progress onto the LPC course or BPC. Check out ULaw law course offerings.

How to become a family lawyer?

As this is a very people-focused area of law, a non-judgmental attitude and genuine interest and care about the lives of others is vital. Family lawyers need to be able to inspire trust and show empathy, whilst remaining detached and remembering that the best way to help a client is by being an effective lawyer – not a counselor or a social worker (others are better placed to fulfill those roles).

Excellent interviewing skills are needed and the ability to calm angry, upset, or frightened clients whilst extracting the important pieces of information from them, is a skill that needs constant development. Negotiating with the other side is a key part of the job and a practical approach with good judgment (based on a firm grasp of family law) will go far.

Gaining work experience in family law

Gaining work experience at the local firm or Citizens Advice Bureau is the perfect way to get a taste for family law. Our Employability Service also offers support with this during your studies. The experience of working with real clients on placement is invaluable. We work with employers to organize work experience opportunities nationally that could prove valuable in furthering your career.

We can also help you to get external placements in a range of not-for-profit organizations, providing members of the public with free legal advice and representation.

What is a family lawyer’s salary?

A newly qualified solicitor in a firm outside of the city or smaller family law practice may expect to earn around £20,000 to £40,000. An average family law solicitor’s salary in London is anything from £25,000 to £70,000 based on five years’ experience according to Reed.com. For those with over ten years experience, earnings can range from £40,000 to £90,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too.

Useful information on family law

The following student guides have useful information working in family law: LawCareers.netChambers and Partners Student Guide, and Target Law.

The Law Society – Has an accredited panel of solicitors specializing in family law.

ResolutionJoin this national organization of family lawyers.

Keep up with family and child law issues and news through: