March 2022 | Bonnie Phillips | Coulter Legal


March 2022 | Bonnie Phillips | Principal, Coulter Legal    

I became a lawyer because...
I am passionate about helping people and making a difference in the community.  My role as Principal Lawyer and Head of the Family & Relationship Law department at Coulter Legal, allows me to do this on a daily basis through helping my clients navigate the separation and divorce process, including complex property disputes, parenting issues, family violence, abduction and international family law disputes.  I also became a lawyer as I thoroughly enjoy working as a team and mentoring lawyers who are new to the profession and developing their own careers. My role at Coulter Legal not only allows me work with the Family & Relationship Law department in this regard, consisting of 14 lawyers, but also with the Coulter Legal leadership team, which has an impressive equal representation of men and women in leadership positions.

A typical work day for me is...
either based in our Melbourne office, our Geelong office, or from home. I divide my week between these locations so that I can be available to our lawyers both in person, as well as remotely, to assist with workflow, supervision and mentoring.  We also have an open door (or open “virtual-door”) policy, which allows us to remain actively engaged with each other throughout the work day.  Usually, my work day is fairly evenly divided between client file work and the management of the department, as well as assisting with the leadership of the firm.  I am also a member of the Victorian Women Lawyers and the current President of the Deakin Law School Alumni Chapter.   I enjoy being involved in both of these organisations as a means of giving back to the community and creating opportunities for alumni and women lawyers to build their careers, network and develop strong connections and relationships with others in the profession.

The best advice I have been given is..
to “do one thing at a time” and “communicate”. Working as lawyers, we often have various competing demands, deadlines, challenging clients and time pressures (to name a few).  Particularly for early career lawyers, or those who are new to the profession, this can feel overwhelming and at times, paralysing.  There can then be a tendency to rush or do multiple things at once, which often leads to errors and important details being missed.  I encourage the lawyers that I work with to have open and clear communication with their supervising lawyers as to their workflow and priorities and to then methodically work through a “to do list”.  Usually, once this communication occurs, things don’t really seem so bad after all.  I also think that is important to remember to “breathe” when things get a bit stressful – this usually helps!

In my free time I..
enjoy spending time with my two long haired Chihuahuas, Hugo and Audrey.  They have enjoyed having me work from home over the last couple of years during the pandemic, however, Audrey’s loud snoring has become quite the distraction from time to time during virtual meetings!