Kimberly H. Phillips is a founding partner of Phillips & Peters, PLLC. She has worked in family law since 2005 and regularly counsels clients on matters of divorce, equitable distribution, child custody and visitation, spousal and child support, adoptions, and more. In 2010, Phillips and Peters, PLLC was formed and is a boutique law firm focused exclusively on family law. Outside of the law firm, Phillips is active in the legal community and has researched and taught continuing legal education classes.
Lawyer Minds: When you decide to take on a case, what initial steps do you take?
Kimberly Phillips: I meet with the client to assess two fundamental factors: the client’s goals and whether there is a good level of communication between the client and me. Ensuring good communication by establishing expectations upfront is a critical part of my initial steps.
Lawyer Minds: What’s your process for keeping a steady workflow in the office?
Kimberly Phillips: To maintain a balanced workflow, I generally do not have more than two major trials per month. That allows for a smoother scheduling of my calendar. Our office maintains a series of deadlines on the attorneys’ and paralegals’ calendars, and we plan the cases out and create tasks over the course of each case.
Lawyer Minds: How do legal ethics impact your practice?
Kimberly Phillips: Legal ethics are the guidepost of everything I do in my practice of law.
Lawyer Minds: Do you find that you’re still learning new things about your career? What are those things?
Kimberly Phillips: Every day, I learn something new. A treasure of being a professional is that you are continually learning and honing your skills. One of my core values is growth, and my career has evolved. I consider myself an entrepreneur as I look at all things through a lens of a posture of possibilities.
Lawyer Minds: How do you approach giving a client bad news?
Kimberly Phillips: Giving bad news is never pleasant. But when representing a family law client, you have built a relationship of trust when you are guiding them through a very difficult transition in their life. They are often already highly stressed. Approaching a difficult conversation with respect, honesty, and timeliness work best. If possible, I prefer to deliver difficult news face-to-face, which allows me to assess and appreciate the client’s full understanding of the information.
Lawyer Minds: Do you think your field of practice suits your personality?
Kimberly Phillips: Family law absolutely suits my personality. I have the ability to relate to clients who are dealing with a great deal of stress and are looking for some direction and a path forward. I have a strong personality, and I do not shy away from a battle; however, I let clients know that they are the ultimate decision-maker. I provide strategic guidance and assist in moving clients forward towards their goals. If my client requires a contested trial or a negotiated/mediated contract, I am equally prepared for either approach.
Lawyer Minds: Are there any organizations you involve yourself with that you’d recommend to young lawyers?
Kimberly Phillips: To young lawyers, I recommend getting involved with local bar associations and their respective committees to become acquainted with more seasoned attorneys and judges in the local community. I also recommend the local Inns of Court. It is a good idea for young lawyers to get involved with other professional organizations that are not related to the law, such as business organizations like the local chambers of commerce or civic organizations like Junior League. This allows a young attorney to develop an independent network of other professionals for support and diversified interests.
Lawyer Minds: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone considering practicing law?
Kimberly Phillips: First, talk to several attorneys of various ages and differing practice areas to survey your interests. Then, attend the law school that provides you with the most financial assistance/scholarship. Do not go into debt just to get a degree from the top law school. You only become an attorney by passing a bar exam, and you do not want to spend years paying off law school debt. Lastly, remember practicing law is a privilege. Being given the opportunity to help someone or an organization work through a problem or develop a solution using your analytical skills, knowledge, training, attention to detail, etc., is an engaging experience. Practicing law means you work. You work hard.
Lawyer Minds would like to thank Kimberly taking the time to share her professional insight with us.