Bringing Ethics and Responsibility to Family Law
Juris Doctor, '03
Founding Partner of Phillips & Peters, PLLC
By Esther Blair
For Corrynn Peters (J.D. ’03), pursuing a law career wasn’t about earning money – it was about doing something good and furthering her calling of helping people.
As a founding partner of Phillips & Peters, PLLC, Peters’ passion for doing good in the area of family law has permeated through their practice. She recently celebrated 10 years in business with her exclusive family law firm. A crowning achievement was being recognized as Small Business of the Year for the city of Norfolk for her firm’s decade of selfless work.
Alongside her business partner, Kim Phillips, Peters creates a culture of wellness for their staff that empowers them to give more to their clients. By being whole and healthy themselves, they can lead their clients ethically and responsibly through the emotional battleground of family law.
Bringing Ethics to Family Law
From the age of 10, Peters knew she wanted to be a lawyer. But it wasn’t until her sophomore year of college, after she had declared a major in psychology and discovered that it wasn’t for her, that she decided to take the plunge and pursue law.
“My personality is such that I am attracted to the rule of law,” Peters says. “I went to Christian schools in undergrad, and the law makes sense to me in that framework, from a Christian perspective. I enjoyed my classes; I enjoyed studying.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in government with an emphasis in prelaw, Peters knew her plan was to attend law school at Regent University.
“I felt like I wanted to do something good with my degree,” she shares. “Regent provided me with the foundation for my legal understanding. It was such a phenomenal combination of giving me an understanding of the law historically, how to think about law, how to think like a lawyer, but then also giving me practical classes and experiences.”
Peters took a clerkship with the federal court in Charlottesville, Virginia, after graduating. It was during her year there that she decided she wanted to prosecute. She then spent a few more years clerking and was exposed to family law. This experience brought her face-to-face with the turmoil families go through. With that she saw the desperate need for ethical attorneys who would not take advantage of the emotional state of their clients.
The pieces were coming together for Peters; she knew family law was what she needed to practice. It was this decision that brought her into contact with her business partner, Kim Phillips. Peters and Phillips spent four years together at a family law firm in Chesapeake, Virginia. Here, they discovered how similar they were regarding their minds for business.
At the center of the firm are these core values: servant leadership, excellence, unity, growth, and wellness.
“We trusted each other and ultimately decided to build something of our own where we could have goals that weren’t necessarily about making money,” Peters explains. “We know we can’t give away our services, but it’s not the primary goal.”
A Foundation of Core Values
From the beginning, Phillips and Peters knew they wanted to build more than a firm; they wanted it to feel like a family.
“Just because I’m the attorney, that doesn’t mean that my work is more important than my paralegals work,” Peters says. “In fact, I think it’s probably the other way around. Our team is vital to everything we do.”
At the center of the firm are these core values: servant leadership, excellence, unity, growth, and wellness. This foundation enables a mentality of trust and teamwork.
“Our associates are not in competition with each other; my business partner and I are not in competition with one another,” Peters says. “When one of us is better, we are all better.”
Working from their core values, the firm began implementing annual themes in 2018. “Accountability” was the first theme, “Wellness” the second, and “Consistency” the theme for 2020. The concepts are designed to build on each other – with accountability leading into wellness, and then remaining consistent in both accountability and wellness.
“We are incredibly proud of the business we have built. We have an amazing team,” Peters says.
Helping People Move Forward
Ten years into their practice, Peters says with deep conviction that she and her partner are not losing sight of why they started – to impact the practice of family law in significant ways.
“We want to teach, we want to write, we want to influence,” Peters shares. “We want to have a firm that ethically represents clients who are going through tough issues, but in a manner that moves them forward, not in a manner that keeps churning the problem. We are looking to help people solve the problems so that they can move forward in their lives.”
With their focus on family, Phillips & Peters began a meditation practice during the COVID-19 shutdown to help families get the support they need during a difficult time.
In addition, Peters is working to expand her appellate practice, which would focus on legal issues that decide a case, and the firm is looking to expand geographically with satellite sites in the near future.
“Our goal is just to be better tomorrow,” Peters says. “Our goal is to always improve in everything that we do from when we started the business.”