My Education: BA, Political Science, Providence College JD, Northeastern University School of Law
My Prior Experience: After graduating from law school I clerked for two years to the Justices of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
My Company: I work in a boutique law firm -- a small firm which practices in a limited area of the law. It has eight attorneys, four associates and four partners. The firm predominantly practices family law, but also practices estate planning, probate litigation, tax planning and related appeals. My practice is entirely focused on family law.
Job/Career Overview: My job is to represent people who are getting divorced or who are having problems, post-divorce, with a former spouse and are seeking to change the terms of their settlement or compel compliance with one of its the provisions. I also represent people who were never married but who have children together. The focus of my job is to help people who are ending relationships -- or have ended them already -- to come to an agreement on dividing their property and on issues such as custody and child support. The goal is to try to come to these agreements through conversation and mediation. Since that is not always possible, court is sometimes necessary.
I spend a good deal of my time speaking to my clients and the opposing attorney on the phone; drafting letters; reviewing documents; drafting court pleadings; and speaking to experts -- accountants, business valuators and real estate appraisers -- so that assets that are owned can be valued. I also attend depositions and appear in court for motion hearings, pretrial conferences and trial.
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
The best part of my job is that no day is like another. Every day is different and that makes the job both challenging and exciting. Each case usually has a new twist or challenge that makes it different, and thus the job is continually challenging and exciting. I also love that I get to meet people from all different walks of life. I also love that I get to really help people at one of the most difficult points in their lives come through a hard process with dignity and grace.
The worst part of my job is that I am dealing with people at one of the most difficult times in their lives and they tend to be very emotional. It can be hard to work with them effectively. There is always an emergency aspect to the practice, with unexpected issues constantly coming up -- not to mention court deadlines that cannot be missed.
The practice of family law involves being an little bit of an expert in a lot of different things. Take courses in tax and negotiation. Be very proficient on the computer -- especially in Excel. You will be amazed at how much you will use that program. Be very organized and pay attention to detail. If this is not your forte, take a class in developing good organization habits. Finally, when starting out, get as much court experience as you can. There is no substitute for actual court experience.