1. What is Family Law?
Family law encompasses a broad spectrum of legal issues, including (but not limited to): Divorce, Child Custody, Visitation, Support, Domestic Violence, Adoption, Dependency, Guardianship, and Prenuptial Agreements.
2. Where is Family Law practiced?
Family law is typically practiced by solo practitioners or by an association of counsel, usually 1-2 partners and some associates. Firms that practice family law are usually small boutique firms devoted to family law issues with 8-10 attorneys.
Most communities have local nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing counsel and representation in various family law matters. Some notable public interest organizations in Santa Clara County include the Legal Advocates for Children & Youth and Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence.
3. What Courses and Academic Experiences would be helpful?
- Interviewing and Counseling
- Externship with a Family Court Judge
- Civil, S.J. & High Tech Internship Program
4. What timeline should I be following?
It is recommended that students pursue a summer internship with a firm, nonprofit organization or a judge as most employers prefer candidates with actual experience or a demonstrated interest in family law. Students should understand that they have to be proactive in getting their foot in the door. As large firms typically do not practice family law, students are unlikely to come into contact with family law employers during the on-campus interview process.
Consequently, students should research potential employers and meet with LCS to develop a job search strategy. LCS is a great resource as it can provide students with contact information for alumni practicing in family law. Students should take the time to conduct informational interviews with these practitioners to determine which opportunities would be the best fit for them. Students should check the SCU Law Jobs website as alumni practicing in this area have posted there.
Students interested in externing with a Family Court Judge should note that judicial externships are limited and highly competitive. Please attend sessions organized by the Externship Office and refer to its handouts dedicated to judicial externships to learn more about the guidelines to follow in pursuing a judicial externship.
Because family law is practiced in small firms, students must realize that this job market highly values practical work experience. Family law practitioners tend to hire as they have a need, and are part of a fairly tight-knit legal community. Therefore, students interested in this field are encouraged to consider pursuing some type of law clerk, externship or clinical experience and participating in the family law section of the bar during the school year and summer.
Another way to attract the attention of employers is for students to write a paper on a family law issue. Students may want to consider submitting a paper for publication to the Santa Clara Law Review or any of the journals dedicated to family law.
5. What Professional Organizations and Associations can I join to meet people and find out more?
- Santa Clara County Bar Association
- Family Law Section of the State Bar of California
- Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association
Many professional organizations are available on Linkedin:
- California Family Law: Divorce and Child Custody Issues
- Family Law Professionals
- American Divorce Lawyers
- Child Advocate Lawyer Network
6. What additional resources should I check out for further information?
- American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
- Legal Advocates for Children & Youth
- Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
7. Professors with Family Law Backgrounds