Thursday Profile: Karen Phillips

 Karen Phillips joined the Nichols Law Firm in East Lansing in 2007 and focuses on criminal defense and family law including divorce, child custody, and juvenile delinquency cases.

A Bay City native, Phillips earned a degree in business administration from Central Michigan University. She worked in the accounting field in Chicago for several years before enrolling in the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where she graduated cum laude nearly one year ahead of schedule. 
Phillips has lectured on family law issues including divorce and child custody at the Women's Center of Lansing. She is a member of Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, National College of DUI Defense, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where she has been trained and certified in field sobriety testing and the Datamaster breath test machine. 
By Jo Mathis
Legal News
Residence:  Dewitt.
Currently reading …    “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  Work in a law office to make sure that you understand what practicing law is like.  Being a lawyer is nothing like most people expect it to be.  Before committing to the long and grueling hours that both law school and practice requires just make sure it is for you.
Favorite websites: and Pinterest.  Both are dangerous, but at least Pinterest is free—to look.
What is your happiest childhood memory?  Building snowmen with my mother and sister at 11 p.m. when my mother knew we would have a snow day from school the next day. It was spontaneous and we felt like we were doing something wrong.
Which things do you not like to do?  Laundry.
What would surprise people about your job?  The amount of time it takes to prepare a document or mail a pleading is much longer than anyone would guess.  The volume of paper that goes through a law office, even one that tries to reduce as much as possible, is amazing.
What do you wish someone would invent?  A device to slow time down. Every day flies by.  Which makes every week fly by.  Which makes every month fly by.  You get the drift…
What has been your favorite year so far?  I think 2006 would be my favorite year.  I graduated from law school and passed the July bar exam all within that year. I never thought I would be able to do either, and the feeling of accomplishment made all the time and effort put in worth it.
What’s your most typical mood?  Lately: tired.  Generally: laid back.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?   To date, the Michigan Supreme Court, but I hope to top that with a trip to Washington D.C.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?  To teleport from one place to another in a few of seconds. 
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  Whether you want to hear it or not, sometimes your mother is right and you should listen to her.  
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work?  That no matter what type of law you practice, people are placing either their lives or livelihood in your hands.  
What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer?  The moment that a prosecutor dismissed a very serious crime that they charged my client with after finally realizing they were wrong to have charged him. I was also proud of the prosecutor for doing so.
What do you do to relax?  Watch movies and spend time with friends, family and my dogs.
How would you describe your home?  Cozy and probably in need of sweeping up dog hair.  
If you were starting all over again and couldn’t go into law, what career path would you choose?  Most likely psychology or psychiatry. It was an interest of mine in high school, but having learned through practicing law how significantly it affects people in all areas of society it interests me even more.
What’s your biggest regret?  Taking out so many student loans in law school and not working more then to cover the expense of it.
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  Meditate. I cannot shut off my brain long enough to actually relax.
What is something most people don't know about you?  I have three tattoos and am obsessed with Ancient Egypt.
Can’t-live-without technology:  Unfortunately, my phone. I am attached to it, but try to reduce and pay attention to life before it completely slips by.
What was the greatest compliment someone ever paid you?  Thanking me for getting their life back on track and helping them through a difficult time.  
What’s the best advice you ever received?  “What would you do if money was no object?”  That was the advice that led me to apply to law school.
What do you drive? A Ford Edge and love it.
What would you drive if money were no object?  A Mustang Shelby GT or a BMW 7 series. Either would result in a lot of speeding tickets so it is probably best that I don’t have one.
Favorite place to spend money: There is just too much variety and good deals there.
Where would you like to be when you’re 90?  Finally sitting on a beach and relaxing while saying everything that comes to mind before it is too late.