JD Programs in Family Law: Degree Information and Requirements

There are several ways for law students in J.D. programs to focus their studies on family law. Find out more about this concentration, as well as future prospects and continuing education opportunities for lawyers.

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Essential Information

Law students enrolled in Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs may choose to pursue family law as a specialty area or earn a certificate that is incorporated into the degree program. In addition to covering general legal subjects related to the criminal justice system, family law specialization courses also cover topics related to marital, juvenile and elderly familial relations. Prior to graduation, students may be required to complete written research projects and fulfill a clerking internship requirement in order to get practical experience. As an additional means of honing their writing skills, many J.D. students also write and edit for the law journals sponsored by their schools.

In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit LSAT scores. Students from outside of the U.S. may have to prove fluency with the TOEFL exam. These programs typically take three years to complete.

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Juris Doctor Programs in Family Law

After taking general coursework during their first year, law students become eligible to pursue certificates or tracks in family law during their second and third years. Some common course topics include:

  • Adoption law
  • Disability law
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Juvenile justice
  • Elderly law
  • Relations between families and the state
  • Special education

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total employment of lawyers was predicted to grow 6%, about as fast as average for all professions, from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, competition for jobs in this field is expected to be stiff because there are currently more law school graduates than available positions in the field. Most lawyers work in private or corporate offices, although some work in government. As of May 2015, the mean annual wage for all lawyers was $136,260.

Continuing Education and Licensure Info

All lawyers must be admitted to the bar in the state or jurisdiction in which they wish to practice by passing the bar examination. Each jurisdiction designs its own version of a written bar examination, which typically consists of questions covering legal and ethical topics. According to the BLS, in order to sit for this exam, the student must have a J.D. from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The BLS states that lawyers are often required by their states or jurisdictions to undertake continuing legal education courses, which may be offered by local bar associations and law schools. The J.D. is also a gateway to advanced law degree programs such as Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs or terminal Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree programs.

Overall, law students in J.D. programs have the opportunity to concentrate in family law, allowing them to pursue specialized careers in the legal field.

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