On the bus, my friend heard a 1L say that she wanted to be a divorce attorney. Although there are a lot of family law lawyers, you hardly ever hear people aspire to be a divorce attorney or more generally, any type of family law lawyer.
Over the summer, I worked on some family law cases in Santa Barbara for very wealthy clients. This semester in my clinic, I am working on family law cases for DC and Maryland clients who cannot afford legal services. The common denominator that I saw across the economic spectrum was that family law cases are so often nasty and heart-wrenching. Although litigation is never fun for any parties involved, the stakes of family law cases are often far more than money and the emotions run higher as it is one family member against another.
Yesterday I saw in the clinic office researching a tumultuous custody case. [Interestingly, The Practice had a very similar case this morning. I forgot how much I liked that show.] While the law is pretty straight forward, the facts are not. I never really thought that my family was crazy, but if I ever had that thought, I will just remember this case.
Lawyers generally have a bad reputation, but I think family law lawyers have it the worst. I have a lot of respect though for these lawyers, at least the good ones, like the ones in my office. At their very best, family law lawyers make the most out of bad situations and try to resolve things to everyone's best interest. They often also have to work as pseudo psychologists for people. Although I do not think I could do family law exclusively, I would not mind occasionally working on them. Please just never ask me to work on your case.