Scott Morgan has practiced divorce and family law since 1994 and is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm which has multiple offices throughout the state of Texas. Scott was kind enough to grant us a brief interview and answer a few questions about his practice.
Can you tell us a little about your educational background and how you became an attorney?
I have a B.S. in Business from LSU. Immediately upon graduation I attended law school and acquired a law degree from the University of Houston. Wanting to work for myself, I opened my own practice as a solo attorney upon getting a bar card.
With so many different types of law to practice why is it that you chose family law? Have you ever considered practicing a different type of law?
Earlier in my career I handled cases in a number of different areas. I did some criminal law, landlord-tenant cases, probate, personal injury and other general civil litigation cases. But when I began practicing family law I realized I had found my calling. Helping people when they were going through such a difficult time just felt like the kind of work I needed to be doing.
Given your experience, what would you say makes a great attorney and how would they differ from an average one? If you had to pin it down to just one skill, what skill is most essential to being an effective family law attorney?
An intimate knowledge of the law (both statutory and case law) and an understanding of how courts typically deal with the various issues that come up. A great attorney is one that knows their area of law inside and out and is passionate about helping their clients. For them it is not just job it is a calling.
You have accomplished quite a bit in your career. What does the future hold for you as an attorney? Is there anything you want to accomplish that you haven’t?
A couple of years ago we opened another office in Austin and just recently we opened a satellite office in Sugar Land. I would like to continue growing the practice and adding talented lawyers to the firm.
What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of practicing family law?
As a family law attorney you have the opportunity to help people as they are going through what is probably the most challenging situation of their life. This creates the opportunity to do a tremendous amount of good. Unlike a lot of other legal fields, family law work is relatively steady. The divorce rate doesn’t seem to fluctuate dramatically regardless of economic or other factors. If you like spending a lot of time in the courtroom, family law provides lots of opportunities. The only lawyers I know who spend more time in court than divorce attorneys are criminal lawyers. Family law involves a great diversity of issues and people. I might work on a complicated property division involving the valuation and division of a small business in the morning, and then be at the courthouse for a temporary custody hearing in the afternoon. It definitely is not boring. If you’re interested in practicing as a solo attorney family law and divorce practice are good fields to be in. While large corporate clients expect their law firms to be big and have lots of overhead, divorce clients generally are much more open to having a solo attorney represent them.
Divorce clients are the most emotional and sometimes difficult clients to represent. To be effective at practicing family law you have to become effective at dealing with very emotional and sometimes unpredictable people. While you can certainly make a very good living as a family law attorney (board certification is a big help here) there is no possibility of getting wealthy overnight like a plaintiff’s lawyer who gets that one “big case.” If it is your dream to be a great trial lawyer and work in front of a jury then family law is not the right field for you. Most states do not allow jury trials on any family law issues and those that do allow juries only on certain limited issues. The bottom line is that jury trials in family law are extremely rare compared to other civil law areas where they are the norm.
What would you say being a family law attorney has taught you about life?
Don’t take your marriage for granted. If getting divorced is something you don’t want to do, then you should put some time and energy into making sure your marriage is a healthy one.
What sort of advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps? Are there certain things students should know about being a family law attorney before they start their career?
No one can tell you what the best field is for you. Having practiced family law since 1994 I can tell you that it can be an extremely gratifying field in which to work. I can also tell you that it can be maddeningly frustrating. Like most things in life you have to take the good with the bad. With regards to becoming an attorney, one thing I would do differently and do suggest is to get a mentor. Go to work as a law clerk or associate attorney with an experienced family law attorney and learn the ropes under them. Being an attorney is nothing like it is portrayed on television and the best way to learn if it is for you is to work in a law firm and get first-hand experience.
The divorce rate doesn’t seem to fluctuate dramatically regardless of economic or other factors. If you like spending a lot of time in the courtroom, family law provides lots of opportunities. The only lawyers I know who spend more time in court than divorce attorneys are criminal lawyers. Family law involves a great diversity of issues and people. While large corporate clients expect their law firms to be big and have lots of overhead, divorce clients generally are much more open to having a solo attorney represent them.