How can you tell if a practice area is on the rise? Two very solid ways of assuring yourself that you are not buying into a losing arena are as follows:
Are the practice area’s affinity groups growing their memberships?
Is the practice area prompting a growth in the number of CLE programs, seminars, and webinars?
Family law is one practice area that answers both of these questions in the affirmative.
The following family law-related affinity groups have all seen increases in their membership rolls in recent years:
- The American Bar Association’s Section of Family Law https://americanbar.org/groups/family_law.html
- National Association of Family Law Attorneys http://nafla.net/
- American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers http://aaml.org/library/article-category/family-law—general
- American Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys http://adoptionattorneys.org
- American College of Family Trial Lawyers http://acftl.com
- Association for Children for Enforcement of Support http://ismi.net/aces
- International Academy of Collaborative Professionals https://collaborativepractice.com/
- International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers http://iaml.org
Family law CLE and other training programs are now ubiquitous, offering attorneys a wide variety from which to choose in order to stay current with this fast-changing practice. An extensive list of organizations offering such programs can be found at the Association for Continuing Legal Education. http://aclea.org
While at first glance family law may look like a staid practice area that has not budged much over many years, that is not at all the case. The scope of issues that this practice area encompasses are growing in all directions, due in large part to the emergence of non-traditional family structures and technological advances.
A few examples:
Non-traditional families have been expanding so rapidly that their number now exceeds the traditional two-parent-plus-children norm that prevailed for many generations. Today, we have millions of cohabiting couples, domestic partnerships, grandparent-led families, single-parent households, gay and lesbian families, etc. These non-traditional family structures come with their own, often unique issues that attorneys are called upon to assist with and resolve.
Technological advances such as in-vitro fertilization, sperm banks, DNA testing in a paternity context, surrogate pregnancies, extended life spans, and the advent of digital assets as a central component of estates are presenting attorneys with both cutting-edge issues of first impression as well as practice expansion opportunities.
At the same time, family law disputes are becoming more complex. Child and spousal support issues are no longer as straightforward as they once were. Some of this is the result of the vast expansion of financial products available for investment. Other causal factors include things like voluntary impoverishment and the expanded ability to hide assets.
At the same time, domestic violence has become a major issue, along with elder financial abuse.
Put this all together and you have a vibrant, dynamic practice that is changing and expanding at a rate that defies family law’s stable history.