In 1962, a small group of nationally-known matrimonial lawyers met to discuss the need to humanize and dignify the most traumatic area of family relations. As a result, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers was founded to improve the practice of law and the administration of justice in the area of divorce and family law.
The Academy was formed “to encourage the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the cause of matrimonial law to the end that the welfare of the family and society be preserved.” Today, the Academy has more than 1,500 Fellows.
Fellows of the Academy concentrate their practices in family and matrimonial law, a specialty that involves all aspects of remarriage counseling and agreements, legal separation, divorce, annulment, unmarried cohabitation, child custody, property valuation and division, and support. Each Fellow must demonstrate by personal conduct a professional and ethical commitment to his or her clients and to the betterment of society in resolving what are often intensely emotional and complex family problems. By demonstrating the highest standards of matrimonial practice, Fellows of the Academy have set the standard for the rest of the matrimonial bar and have helped improve the quality of family law practice throughout this country for attorneys and litigants alike.
To apply for membership in the Academy, a candidate must first have been admitted to the Bar for at least ten years and have concentrated at least seventy-five percent of his or her practice in matrimonial law. Candidates from states where family law is subject to certification must be certified as specialists.
There are two exceptions to the above requirement:
- For attorneys who practice in geographical areas where the seventy-five percent of practice is not feasible, a fifty percent concentration in the area is acceptable.
- For attorneys who devote ninety percent of their practice to matrimonial law, the ten-year practice requirement can be reduced to five years.
Each candidate is personally interviewed by an Admissions Committee after information as to the candidate’s ethics is solicited from members of the local Bench and Bar where the candidate practices. Each candidate must have substantial trial experience in matrimonial litigation with consideration given to the ability to achieve settlement without the necessity of trial. Each candidate must pass a written examination covering federal taxation and local laws and procedures as they relate to the practice of family law. A candidate must also demonstrate the highest standing in his or her legal community for character and ethical practice.
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Fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers represents both a recognition of achievements in family law and a commitment to the highest standards of practice in the field. Those seeking further information about membership may contact the Academy office in Chicago or visit the Academy website.