FAQ: How Much Do Family Lawyers Make? (Plus What They Do)
Updated January 26, 2023
Lawyers advise and represent their clients regarding legal concerns or disputes. Most lawyers specialize in a particular legal field, and their chosen specialty may affect who their clients are and the types of cases they work. Learning about the different fields can help you determine which specialization may be the right choice for you to pursue. In this article, we discuss some frequently asked questions about family lawyers, including what they do, how much they make, what the career outlook for them is, where they work and what the requirements for this position are.
What is a family lawyer?
A family lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in handling legal issues that pertain to families. For example, they may assist clients with concerns related to adoption, child custody, divorce, domestic abuse and guardianship. Family lawyers represent one of the involved parties in trials or other legal proceedings. They gather evidence and argue in support of their client, aiming to achieve the best outcome for their client.
Some family lawyers choose to specialize further within the field. Examples of types of lawyers they may pursue becoming include:
Child support lawyer: Child support lawyers assist clients with collecting the appropriate child support payments from former spouses or partners. They may complete paperwork, request paternity testing and establish relationships between children and stepparents.
Divorce lawyer: Divorce lawyers help clients attempting to dissolve their marriage. They determine the appropriate grounds for divorce, advise clients about what to seek in terms of property, damages and alimony and assist with custody agreements.
Domestic abuse lawyer: Domestic abuse lawyers understand the different types of domestic abuse and help survivors protect themselves. They may help their clients complete paperwork to receive a restraining order and file paperwork to begin legal proceedings.
Related: How To Become a Divorce Lawyer
What does a family lawyer do?
Family lawyers handle a variety of responsibilities, such as:
Assist with child support disputes and agreements
Communicate with clients, coworkers and judges involved with cases
Interpret laws, regulations and rulings and apply them to their clients
Mediate proceedings with wills, inheritances, annuities and trust funds for clients
Negotiate prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for clients
Oversee divorce proceedings and negotiations for clients
Prepare and file various legal documents like appeals, contracts, deeds, lawsuits and wills
Present and argue facts verbally and in writing on behalf of their clients
Represent clients in court and private legal settings
Research and analyze legal issues
Resolve custody and guardianship disputes for clients
Supervise other staff members like legal assistants, legal secretaries and paralegals
Work with other family lawyers and types of lawyers, such as civil and criminal lawyers
How much do family lawyers make?
The national average salary for a family lawyer is $107,680 per year. It's important to remember that exact salaries may vary. Factors like experience, qualifications, geographic location and specific information may affect the exact amount a family lawyer earns.
A family lawyer's earnings may also vary based on whether their work is on retainer or billable hours. Depending on their rates, this may allow family lawyers working on billable hours to earn more when they handle more complex cases. Family lawyers can further specialize in a niche area, such as abuse or divorce, which may also allow them to charge higher rates and earn more.
Do family lawyers make more than other types of lawyers?
Family lawyers earn a higher salary than the national average salary for a lawyer in general. The national average salary for family lawyers is $107,680 per year, and the national average salary for a general lawyer is $72,911 per year. While exact salaries may vary, some other types of lawyers that family lawyers earn more than include:
There are some other types of lawyers who may earn more than family lawyers. Although specific salaries may vary, some types of lawyers with higher national average salaries than family lawyers include:
Read more: 12 Highest-Paying Jobs for Lawyers
What is the job outlook for family lawyers?
There isn't specific career outlook information available for family lawyers available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides career outlook information for all types of lawyers. It expects the overall employment of lawyers to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The BLS anticipates consistent job opportunities for lawyers as people choose to retire or leave the occupation to pursue other opportunities. It also expects continued demand for legal services from all levels of government, businesses and individuals. The BLS also predicts the potential for some changes in work responsibilities for lawyers, such as completing research and document reviews. It expects many firms to assign these duties to lawyers themselves rather than paralegals or legal assistants in an effort to reduce costs.
Read more: Career Outlook and Challenges for Lawyers
What are the requirements to become a family lawyer?
Becoming a family lawyer begins with earning a bachelor's degree in a field like criminal justice, criminology, government, legal studies, pre-law or a similar area. Near the end of their undergraduate studies, these students take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). LSAT scores affect which law schools applicants may attend, which may ultimately affect what job opportunities they have access to upon graduation.
After completing their undergraduate program and passing the LSAT, students begin law school. Most law school programs require approximately three years to complete, and students receive a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree upon graduation. Before they can begin practicing law, graduates take and pass the appropriate bar exam for the state where they intend to practice law. As they continue their career, it's important for family lawyers to complete continuing education courses to maintain their credentials.
Read more: How To Become a Family Lawyer
Where do family lawyers work?
Family lawyers often work for small or large firms, but some choose to work independently. While they often work in offices, they may also go to courthouses or other legal settings for trials and mediations. They typically work Monday through Friday with standard business hours, but they may offer later meeting hours to accommodate their clients. Many lawyers often work more than 40 hours a week, especially if they have complex cases.
Explore more articles
- 12 Common Types of Human Resources Jobs
- A Guide to the ISTJ Personality Type (With 5 Career Choices)
- 17 Jobs That Hire Teens
- 8 Pros and Cons of Being a Correctional Officer (Plus Duties)
- What Does a Reliability Engineer Do?
- How To Become an SAP Consultant
- 11 Types of Banking Degrees and Certificates To Consider
- 19 High-Paying Physician Assistant Jobs (With Salaries)
- 10 Jobs Where You Stay Active (With Salary and Duties)
- Human Resources (HR): Definition and Role Responsibilities
- 132 IT Job Titles to Consider
- What Are Jung Typology Tests? 16 Personality Types Explained