One of the good things about being a family lawyer is the diversity in matters that I deal with to help clients through what can be a difficult time in their lives. While no two days are the same, there are a few little routines I have developed over the past eight years as a family lawyer and today I am sharing with you what a typical day might look like for me.
Setting up the day for success
I tend to arrive at the office around 8 am each morning. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym or for a run or walk before work (but probably not as often as I should).
I’m only in Court maybe a few times every couple of months, so most of my time is spent in the office assisting to progress matters and negotiate settlements out of Court.
When I start my day I try and set my priorities by determining which work is the highest priority. This might be for example because there is a Court ordered deadline. Over time you tend to develop a sense of what needs to be done when. As a lawyer, time management is a big part of my job because there are often things that have competing priorities so it’s important that I use my time wisely.
In my job, I deal with a mix of parenting and property matters. In many matters, both of these are an issue. With property there is a bit of a process to follow which often leads to a resolution fairly quickly, whereas parenting matters don’t follow a set process as such and you’re dealing with more human factors like the personalities of parties and changing needs of children.
A wealth of knowledge within the firm
As Phillips Family Law is a specialist family law firm, working here carries some advantages. It’s great to have my colleagues to call on for advice and help or to just get their take on a case if I think it would be beneficial. Lawyers who don’t specialise in family law don’t always have a good understanding of the aspects that are unique to family law matters. As I work with other family lawyers, they understand what they’re talking about and recognise the complexity of it too.
Focused on delivering fair outcomes
When clients come to me they are often quite emotional and might have been facing challenges for some time. I get a lot of satisfaction with helping people to get a good resolution so they can feel like they can get out of the sense of limbo they are in and move on with their lives.
One particular example comes to mind in relation to a parenting matter for a father. The mother was self-acting and quite difficult to communicate with. My client had lots of hurdles to get over to be able to spend time with his kids. His ex-partner had moved the children to a different state and quite a bit of time had passed before he sought legal advice. I had to manage his expectations and be realistic with him about the outcomes I was going to be likely to be able to achieve for him. In the end, parenting orders were made where the children would travel up to spend time with him and he would go down there and spend time with them in their new home state during school holidays and at other times. I’m sure that if he had not obtained legal assistance, he would not have a meaningful relationship with his kids. He was patient, persistent, took advice and stuck to the process and he got there in the end.
I often go to events to continue my professional develop and network with professionals in related fields. The Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland and other experts we work with such as accountants often host such events. Before the pandemic there was usually an event on every week or every couple of weeks, however now these are being held online.
Outside of work
I like to watch movies and TV shows and there is always lots of discussion within the firm about movies and TV shows that people are watching. I also enjoy reading books and listening to podcasts when I can. My colleague Olivia Phillips recommended the podcast ‘The Drop Out’ to me, which is about Elizabeth Holmes (the founder and CEO of blood-testing company Theranos who is now facing fraud charges). This was a good listen. Other podcasts I like are:
- Revisionist History;
- The High Low;
- How to Fail with Elizabeth Day; and
- The Adam Buxton Podcast.
Revisionist History, which is written and hosted by Malcolm Gladwell, is always well-researched and presented. One I recall was on the admission test for law schools in America which are called the LSATs. The basic premise was that these exams favour “hare -like” people who can work extremely quickly as opposed to tortoises. He interviewed a number of lawyers who were really high achievers and were self-confessed tortoises, so he was basically positing that the profession benefits from having both tortoises and hares.
How I came to join the Phillips Family Law team
I didn’t necessarily always want to be a lawyer but I was interested in english and social sciences and humanities and my dad is a lawyer and I also have two sisters who are lawyers.
Growing up I was interested in social sciences and humanities like history. I liked reading and writing so I think that contributed a lot to me deciding to pursue a career in law. The first job I worked in as a graduate solicitor was in a family law role and I liked the human aspect of it and feeling a sense of contribution in helping someone through what can be a very challenging time in their life. I know that going through a separation or divorce is one of the most stressful things that people can go through.
I have had quite a bit of client contact since I started in the profession. This has helped contribute to the sense of satisfaction of finalising a separation for people, because most clients are happy and relieved once things are finished and they can move on to the next chapter of their life.
At Phillips Family Law it’s great to be surrounded by people who you can bounce ideas off and who understand the unique challenges that come along with family law cases. What’s most important to me is doing meaningful work with colleagues I enjoy working with and clients who are appreciative of the great effort and care we put into their matters.
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