When talking to people outside of the legal profession, I have noticed that there are many different perceptions about the role of a lawyer and how we carry out our daily tasks. In some people’s minds it is all paperwork and administrative tasks. While others assume it is all action, with our days spent litigating in Court.
For those who find themselves interested in how we spend our days, I thought I would give you some insight into what my days as a lawyer look like. But first, it is important to know that in this area of work, no two days are the same.
Some days I will spend the majority of the day on the phone dealing with clients and issues that arise. While on others you will find me completely absorbed in drafting court documents including trial material. Other days I might attend a mediation or go to Court. One of the best things about being a family lawyer is the diversity of the work and what you can learn from each situation.
How I start my day
Most days I get up early and start the day with exercise before I head into work. As I spend most of the day sitting down, I try to get some movement in to start the day. I usually go to Pilates or to a personal trainer with a friend or maybe do a group class.
My favourite thing about the mornings is having my coffee, followed by some breakfast. I then like to get to the office early as I find I work better in the mornings and want to make the most of my most productive hours.
Once everyone has arrived at the office, we have our delegation meetings which are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Following the initial delegation meeting with the whole firm, we then have individual delegations with our paralegals.
I work closely with my paralegal, Kasumi and Sophie, one of our lawyers. Part of my role is helping develop other staff and assisting in their training. Delegating tasks to other staff members is an important skill and something I have been trying to get better at.
I try my best to block out mornings to do the bigger tasks that need to get done. If I have something important I need to get done, sometimes I turn off my emails and phone for an hour or two to try and get it completed. This is what helps me with my time management.
I will admit some days this is much easier said than done. Mostly because when trying to manage my time, unexpected things can pop up urgently, and it can take up most of my day. It can be tricky because everything I need to complete is important and at times urgent, so it is about managing and prioritising it. Also, I try to manage expectations and keep my clients informed about where things are at.
Making sure to stop for a break
Each day I try to make sure I stop and have a break for morning tea or lunch with my colleagues. At the office, we have morning tea at 10:30am every day. This is our time to spend together as a team and is a chance for us to interact with one another. It is a really important part of building the team culture here.
Just taking that 20 minutes to talk to each other and disconnect means we can go back to work refreshed and ready to keep going. Unless I’m super busy with a client all day and can’t get out, I try not to eat lunch at my desk. Instead, I’ll go to the lunchroom or go and grab something out of the office.
How I spend my afternoon
In the afternoons, I spend my time trying to get back to people that I need to speak to. So, I return calls and emails that have come through and just make sure I have got everything done before I leave the office.
I usually finish up my day in the office between 5:30 pm and 6:30pm. When I am busy and have something due, I might stay working at the office late but that is not every day.
I think what sets us aside from other firms is that while we have a very high expectation of the level of work that we do and the responsibility of our roles, our work is not our entire life. We all try to pursue our interests outside of the office and we talk about these other interests or hobbies with each other.
Another great thing about our firm is that there is no pressure to stay late just for the sake of it or because someone else is staying late. If it is busy and you have deadlines to meet, then you may occasionally need to stay back a little later to get it done. But if you have finished all your work by the end of the day and don’t have a looming deadline then it is perfectly fine to leave then.
I find that is really important because sometimes the legal culture can have a pressure to stay late even and “put in the hours” even when it is not necessary. By working the way we do it means we are more productive when we are at work and we still have time to do the things we love outside of work.
What I love most about my work
One of the best parts about my job is the interaction I have with people and what I learn about them. I like to think that I am helping people through a really difficult time. I don’t take lightly that I have an opportunity to help others through what can be the hardest time for them and make an impact on their life.
This is really the best and worst part because if you take the responsibility seriously it can at times be a lot of pressure but I also find it very rewarding to help others. I also love learning about people, what they do and what makes them tick. Some of my clients I have come across have incredibly successful businesses or have lead very interesting lives. What they have done to create this is fascinating to me. On an interpersonal level, you also learn a lot about people and relationships. As a family lawyer I learn a lot about people, the decisions they make and how they live through my work.
The other great part of my job is the team I work with. Coming into the office each day to a team of like minded people that you genuinely enjoy working with makes such a difference. At times, the work we do can be highly emotive, so having colleagues that you can chat or laugh with is so important.
We are currently recruiting for some new lawyers to join our team, so I am looking forward to having some new colleagues to get to know and share the work day with.
Related: Careers at Phillips Family Law
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Disclaimer: The content in this article provides general information however it does not substitute legal advice or opinion. Information is best used in conjunction with legal advice from an experienced member of our team.