Ask Attorney Jennifer B.: What Makes a Good Divorce Attorney? - Martindale-Avvo

Ask Attorney Jennifer B.: What Makes a Good Divorce Attorney?

divorce attorney

Specializing in family law requires a certain je ne sais quoi. Add in factors like the emotions involved and personal nature of the cases, and this may be why many attorneys aren’t too eager to practice family law. It’s true that it takes a special kind of lawyer to choose family law — one who is willing to get into the mix of the unraveling of relationships and battles over custody rights. So let’s explore what it takes to be a top notch family lawyer.

Family lawyers need legal expertise, not only in divorce, custody, and support (and these laws vary from state to state), but they also need to be well versed in tax, real estate, bankruptcy, estate, corporate law, and general litigation to handle the plethora of issues that arise when couples uncouple. Along with understanding different businesses and financial issues, you’ll find that the complexities are endless, and thus, family attorneys need to have a broad range of knowledge and expertise. And if they don’t know, they need to have great resources to call upon for assistance.

Besides the necessary legal acumen that is required, family lawyers must also be therapist, coach, friend, and true counselor for their clients who often need emotional support as well as excellent legal advice. There is a personal element involved in every family law matter, and as an attorney specializing in this area, one can’t shy away from getting involved in the nitty gritty of human relationships.
Read more: How to Help Clients through a Divorce

To become a successful family lawyer, one has to have patience, understanding, compassion and empathy. Divorce and custody proceedings are often high conflict situations, and family lawyers need to be the steadying voice for the client. You learn the most intimate details of a person’s life and accompany them through some of their most difficult times. Plus, most folks going through a family court proceeding have never hired a lawyer before. They don’t understand the legal process, timing of the proceedings, risks involved in litigation, and the cost association. So it’s the family attorney’s role to provide guidance and assurance through the legal process with the goal of getting the best outcome so the client can move forward.

Of course, a family lawyer needs to be a strong advocate and litigator. There’s always the possibility of going to trial, and the stakes could not be higher — especially when you are dealing with someone’s children. What could be more important? As outcomes are often unpredictable, and the process may vary from location to location and even courtroom to courtroom, the family lawyer is expected to provide certainty in a very uncertain environment.

On top of it all, to be a good family lawyer, there’s an ongoing need to be able to bring in new clients and cases repeatedly. Divorce clients usually don’t become institutional clients and there’s not a lot of repeat business. The goal is to bring matters to an end as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thus, a good family lawyer must network and be on the lookout for prospects while making sure to do an excellent job on cases that are ongoing.

So when other attorneys moan and groan when asked if they would ever handle a divorce, perhaps it is not the subject matter that is so off-putting. Perhaps it is a realization that to be a good family attorney, one must wear numerous hats. It’s challenging, but the satisfaction of helping people through one of their most difficult times cannot be surpassed.

With more than 25 years of experience in the industry, Jennifer Brandt’s practice includes all aspects of family law including divorce, custody, support, alimony, adoption, and guardianship matters in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition to family law litigation, she also negotiates prenuptial, post-nuptial and cohabitation agreements on behalf of clients. In addition to her busy practice, she’s a well-known legal commentator on national news networks including CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, Court TV and local and regional television and radio.

If you have a family law issue or would like me to speak about legal issues, you can connect with Ms. Brandt at

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