Boutique Law Firms, Dahlia Lithwick, Divorce Train Wrecks, Family Law, Midsize Firms / Regional Firms, Small Law Firm Open Threads, Solo Practitioners

Small Law Firm Open Thread: Family Law / Divorce Law

Star Wars divorce card front.jpgLet’s return to our series of open threads on small law firms in different practice areas. We’ve covered seven fields so far; check them out here.
The latest topic to tackle: FAMILY LAW. This is the area of law that our somewhat cantankerous, dearly departed grandmother urged us to enter. She was firmly convinced that when a couple splits up, the divorce lawyers end up with all the couple’s money.
But not everyone is a fan of this practice area. Dahlia Lithwick, Slate’s fabulous and funny Supreme Court correspondent, previously practiced family law at a small firm in Reno, Nevada. It seems that she found divorce law depressing rather than enriching.
Here’s what Lithwick said during a talk at UVA Law School last year, when we asked what led her to move from practicing law to writing about it:

“One thing that really helps is doing doing divorce law.” After representing clients in their “bickering over the pots and pans,” she said, everything else starts to look much more attractive.

That seems like a rather negative take on the field, doesn’t it? In fairness to family law, it has its upsides.
Find out the advantages of this field — and check out the inside of this greeting card (above right), courtesy of the folks at Pig Spigot — after the jump.

Star Wars divorce card inside.jpgA friend of ours practiced divorce law at a matrimonial boutique here in New York, representing many wealthy individuals and a fair number of celebrities. He generally enjoyed this work, citing these upsides:

  • exciting and high-profile work (he got to brag to all his friends about the celebs he met, represented, and deposed);

  • relatively good pay (base salary and bonus slightly below market); and
  • a feeling of helping people (yes, rich people are people too).

And the downsides:

  • working for some rather difficult bosses (a problem at small firms more generally; you can’t hide from them like you can at big firms);

  • poor compensation given the hours (higher than when he was in Biglaw); and
  • overly demanding clients, who would demand the sun and the moon and then stars (and then complain about their bills — despite being very high-net-worth individuals).

Do you practice family law or divorce law at a small shop? If so, what can you tell us about your work? We especially welcome (anonymous) information about how much you work, how much you make, and what market you work in. Thanks!
(Images and greeting card courtesy of
Earlier: Prior small law firm open threads

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