What Should Family Lawyers Know? Results of a Survey of Practitioners and Students


Political Science and International Affairs

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The contemporary practice of family law demands that lawyers know far more than the law. Results of a recent survey of professionals and law students suggest that today's family lawyer needs knowledge and skills that are often missing from law school curricula. Survey respondents emphasized the importance of strong interpersonal skills like listening, negotiation, and working with clients in emotional crisis, as well as keen understanding of financial issues in family law, the impact of separation and divorce on children, and the ethical dimensions of family law practice. Law students held contrasting views to law faculty and to practicing attorneys on a number of measures, ranking adversarial courtroom skills as more important and placing less emphasis on skills, knowledge, and attributes related to ethics.