Corrynn J. Peters is a founding partner of Phillips & Peters, PLLC. Born in Ontario, Canada, Peters moved to Wisconsin as a child and attended Regent University School of Law in Virginia in 2000. Today, Corrynn dedicates her legal talents to helping families that need the benefit of a competent and ethical attorney while being actively involved in the legal community outside of her law firm.
Lawyer Minds: When you decide to take on a case, what initial steps do you take?
Corrynn Peters: I spend at least an hour gathering the potential client’s story, understanding what is important to that person, understanding his or her goals while assessing whether I would be someone who could help that particular person move forward through his or her legal issue.
Lawyer Minds: What’s your process for keeping a steady workflow in the office?
Corrynn Peters: My experience has been if you are maintaining your workload, meeting your deadlines, doing the preparation necessary, in the area of family law, there is always a steady workflow. It’s procrastination that stops the workflow, i.e., if I procrastinate on addressing a particular issue, opposing counsel never responds to it. Then, I have nothing to do until there is a deadline. This is not the same as “churning” a case, i.e., doing things unnecessarily just to bill. That is not what I mean, but being prepared and accomplishing things timely and in advance helps to ensure a steady workflow. Continued and new marketing is always helpful, of course.
Lawyer Minds: How do legal ethics impact your practice?
Corrynn Peters: I treat my ethical obligations as the base of my behavior. In some regard, I try to make sure I do the right thing in every situation, even if my ethical obligation requires something less.
Lawyer Minds: Do you find that you’re still learning new things about your career? What are those things?
Corrynn Peters: The short answer is I learn something new almost every day. This career is so interesting because the law is changing, the people change, the judges change, and there is always someone on the other side of a case coming up with a new and creative argument. It keeps you sharp if you do not let it defeat you. It teaches a person to be creative, assertive, and not afraid to say, “I don’t know,” but then go find out.
Lawyer Minds: How do you approach giving a client bad news?
Corrynn Peters: My personal approach is to be straightforward about the bad news. I try to be empathic and sympathetic where necessary. I let the personality of the client dictate how gentle I am in my approach, but I am always straightforward and clear about what I am trying to communicate. I don’t do any favors to clients by doing anything less. They are paying me too much money for lack of clarity.
Lawyer Minds: Do you think your field of practice suits your personality?
Corrynn Peters: Most of the time, I do believe my field of practice suits my personality. I enjoy helping others solve problems, and most days, that is what I am actually doing in my cases. Family law does not always require, however, legal argument. Much of the time, we are arguing facts as they apply to factors. I thrive in those circumstances when I can make a creative or well thought through legal argument.
Lawyer Minds: Are there any organizations you involve yourself with that you’d recommend to young lawyers?
Corrynn Peters: The local bar association is great for marketing and networking. I would recommend joining one that is active or becoming part of the leadership to make it more active. In Virginia, we have a voluntary state-wide bar that has also been beneficial; however, my biggest recommendation is that young lawyers find and participate in what interests them. If what they are doing fascinates them and they are passionate about it, they will show up with their best self, and that will impress people and cause people to refer them work.
Lawyer Minds: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone considering practicing law?
Corrynn Peters: If you decide to practice law for the money, it will not be satisfying. Money is necessary, but it does not make the stress worth it. At least in this type of law (family law) you will be basically living in and through other people’s turmoil. It is stressful. If you do not have something else motivating you, the money will not compensate for lacking that motivation.
Lawyer Minds would like to thank Corrynn for taking the time to share her legal knowledge and insight with us.