Families Evolve and So Must Their Attorneys

“What is family?” This was the first question posed to our class when we walked into Family Law. The answer seems obvious, but our class couldn’t decide on a uniform definition. Even I think of “family” in the traditional nuclear way, even though I don’t come from a nuclear family at all. Families can be comprised in many different ways and it is difficult to put a clear cut definition on it.
This is the beauty of family law. Family law practice is not just about one thing, such as divorce. It can also involve adoptions, child custody, taxes, estate matters, etc. Family law requires attorneys to have a working knowledge of a lot of different areas of practice, which keeps things interesting and gives attorneys the ability to continue learning throughout their practice. Just about every course offered at the law school could at some point prove useful in a family law career, because every case involves different circumstances, assets, and tangential legal issues.
While clerking for Larry Rice this summer, I had the opportunity to watch cases in Chancery Court, Circuit Court, and in front of the Divorce Referee. None of these proceedings were exactly the same, but the brilliant attorneys that I observed were able to navigate each courtroom and conform to each judge with ease. And it is not just legal matters that family lawyers must be adept in – these attorneys must also play the role of a listener and counselor, all while attempting to maintain client control.
Family attorneys are well-versed in a number of facets of the law and as our society’s definition of “family” continues to expand, so does the role of a family lawyer.