‘I knew that with the right support and mentors that I could do it’

Having the right support behind you is key when building a firm in the middle of a pandemic, said this director and co-founder.

Danielle Snell is the director and co-founder of Elit Lawyers by McGirr and Snell. Speaking recently on The Boutique Lawyers Show, Ms Snell reflected on opening her own firm during a pandemic, the challenges of doing so, and what she’s learnt along the way.

In terms of first getting her business off the ground, Ms Snell said she experienced both scepticism and support – both with her being 30 weeks pregnant and it being in the middle of a pandemic.

“The scepticism was inherent. It was something that was sort of ingrained in me throughout the years of my growing as a litigator. And particularly then once you do get to those childbearing years, it was like, we won’t necessarily put you in front of the client, or we won’t necessarily give you this leading high-profile case because you might not be here five days a week,” she said.

“And I think that the toxicity can sort of eat away a bit at those confidence levels of practitioners, which I find quite saddening, not to mention the fact that I’ve seen so many women lose the practises that they have worked so hard to build when they do take time out of the workforce.”

Ms Snell did take time out of the workforce when having her first child, but said that this time, she had worked so hard for where she was and it felt like the right time to open her own firm.

“I knew that with the right support and the right mentors that I could do it,” she said.

“And that undertone of those people that will roll their eyes and treat you as though you’re not capable of doing it, or you’re thinking somewhere not in reality. But the practice is booming, and I’m proud of it.”

Having the right support has been instrumental in the firm’s success, added Ms Snell. However, there were a number of challenges at the firm’s inception.

“When I was heavily pregnant and I was arranging everything to start the film, do you know what the one thing was that I found the most difficult leading up to the establishment? The website. It was shocking to me that that was one of the most difficult aspects,” Ms Snell added.

“Since then, since having established the firm, I have found that once we reached that sort of eight to 10-person mark, that’s when the HR side of things became more of a challenge in terms of just general people management, staff training, infrastructure, project management, all of that sort of thing.

“Because it’s always front of mind to me about the culture and the values that the firm’s representing. I never want to leave that behind – so that is front of mind the whole time,” she added.

Culture is of the utmost importance to Elit Lawyers – and Ms Snell said she’s taken an enormous amount of pride in creating a “dynamic, innovative law firm”.

“This is a new-age law firm, so we think with contemporary values and we think about what it’s like for these staff members, living their life in this pandemic,” she said.

“Let’s not pretend that it’s five years ago here; we are where we are, and we have to deal with it based on contemporary values.”

In fact, Ms Snell advised other lawyers to take a look at their own working environments to see whether they are benefiting them or not.

“If you feel in your bones that you could excel beyond what you’re able to within the environment that you’re currently in, I would implore you to write a list of ways in which you could affect positive change. And that might not mean starting your own firm, but that might mean having a discussion with someone within that organisation or thinking about a different process by which you can conduct a matter that would serve you better,” she said.

“But if you’re doubting yourself and your confidence levels are reducing, there’s a reason for that. I can speak first hand that I sort of just let it go on for a bit too long. And now that I’m on the other side, to see the success that I’ve had and the way in which clients are reacting to my service and my abilities, speaks words.”

Republished from Lawyers Weekly.

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With us personally, it is just one more way we’re different.

Danielle Snell

CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR

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Robert McGirr

CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR

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"This was a “David v Goliath” fight as our dispute was with a large global corporation. The attention, compassion and guidance that Danielle and the team showed us was absolutely incredible."

CEO & Founder

National mental-health support organisation

We recently instructed Danielle from Elit Lawyers by McGirr & Snell to help with a legal dispute. As a small purpose led business, this was a “David v Goliath” fight as our dispute was with a large global corporation. This dispute was during a very emotional time as we were in the middle of a global pandemic, Melbourne’s sixth lockdown, homeschooling and no childcare – all while trying to keep our small business alive.

The attention, compassion and guidance that Danielle and the team showed us was absolutely incredible. I have 10 years legal experience myself and even with that, I was reluctant to litigate, especially during such a difficult time. However Danielle always gave us confidence in knowing that she was in our corner and always working for our best interests, so my reluctance was quickly appeased.

Today I am pleased to share that David defeated Goliath and we could not be more thrilled with the result we received thanks to Danielle and the team from Elit Lawyers. Danielle not only saved our company, but ensured that we could continue doing the good work we were previously and helping improve the lives and mental health of mothers across Australia.

I could not recommend Danielle and the team from Elit Lawyers more highly. I am *hoping* that I will never need their services again, but feel very reassured knowing they are there and always in my corner.

Thank you Danielle and team.

"

"Danielle is a well-known and respected lawyer who knows how to handle difficult and intensive litigation."

Queens Counsel, Devers List

Victorian Bar

Danielle Snell is a very intelligent and impressive lawyer whom I have worked with in my role as senior counsel on various litigation matters.  She is a well-known and respected lawyer who knows how to handle difficult and intensive litigation.  Danielle combines a deep knowledge of the law across many practice areas with a practical approach to litigation, and is authentic and charismatic in her dealings with others.

"

"Danielle and Robert demonstrate outstanding expertise and approach all matters methodically with a clear and practical focus..."

Chief Operations Officer

Peak industry body for fire protection

As Chief Operating Officer it is extremely important to work with lawyers who are easily accessible, honest and trustworthy.  We have briefed Elit Lawyers by McGirr and Snell across various legal disciplines and now use them as our “go to” solicitors.  Danielle and Robert demonstrate outstanding expertise and approach all matters methodically with a clear and practical focus on achieving the best possible result.

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"Danielle demonstrated a refreshing and unique ability to narrow the issues, and succinctly explain complex matters."

General Counsel

Leading home building company

Having worked alongside Danielle in litigation matters I have found her approach to be thorough and strategic.  In particular, Danielle demonstrated a refreshing and unique ability to narrow the issues, and succinctly explain complex matters.

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