Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

‘If you can dream it, you can do it’

Whilst starting a new firm can be a daunting feat, this award-winning boutique has shown that breaking through mental barriers can result in continued growth and success.

user iconLauren Croft 01 September 2022 SME Law
‘If you can dream it, you can do it’
expand image

Elit Lawyers by McGirr & Snell was recently crowned Boutique Firm of the Year at this year’s Australian Law Awards. In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, co-founder and director Danielle Snell said she was “immensely proud” of the firm and how far it has come.

“It took a continued belief in the Elit vision to break away from the status quo and challenge the traditional law firm model. As a mother, friend, wife and professional who was pregnant at the time I co-founded this firm with Robert McGirr,” she said. 

“It is truly an honour to be recognised for our progressive work practices and initiatives to facilitate change in the legal industry not only for our clients but also for women and the future generations of legal professionals.


“We take great pride in our social enterprise model, which does things differently, primarily related to transparency between lawyers and clients, a personalised empathetic approach towards clients and gender equality and diversity and inclusion in terms of professional opportunities,” Ms Snell continued. 

“We emerged during the COVID pandemic to break down the barriers as lawyers and end stereotypes, shedding light on archaic practices in a long-standing legal profession, highlighting levels of inflexibility and issues that need immediate attention and change.”

Ms Snell started Elit Lawyers whilst she was 30 weeks pregnant, with the firm growing from the two founders to a team of 11 in eight months — and said there were a number of challenges from the onset.

“Getting our firm off the ground came with challenges, such as choosing a name to suit our bespoke technology solutions. Amongst the rest, one of the biggest hurdles was launching a new aged website which was different to the usual law firm website! Apart from these ephemeral professional roadblocks, on a personal level, I was met with some scepticism being 30 weeks pregnant and trying to start my own law firm,” she added.

“That being said, I was also immensely supported by my mentors, supporters and staff with similar work ethic, values, and desire to challenge the status quo. I recognised that changing the legal landscape amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique opportunity to achieve greater personal and professional fulfilment by creating an electronic model where the team and I are empowered to elect when and where we want to work. Despite challenges arising along the Elit journey, we very quickly established ourselves within a boutique niche. Our progressive way of working has been very attractive to prospective employees and clients and other law firms who regularly brief us when conflicts arise. This helped us grow incredibly fast.” 

Over a year and a half since launching the firm, Elit has continued to grow.

“It has been inspiring to see how fast Elit has grown, and we are constantly striving to expand and develop to provide our clients with the most efficient and empowering experience. We are proud to continue representing a diverse client base and collaborate with other industry professionals to achieve the best outcome for each client,” Ms Snell said.

“As a social enterprise, we have always taken a value-based approach toward our clients and employees. In the future, we would like to continue living our values, especially transparency, diversity, inclusion and gender equality, in our work and industry-based collaborations. It is important to us to be able to deliver our services, reflecting our values and mission.”

In terms of what other firms can learn from Elit, Ms Snell said that boutiques should adopt more legal-tech practices and have confidence in their vision.

“By utilising technology in boutique firms, we can offer clients personalised support that larger scale firms may not provide. Cost and time savings make a firm like us more accessible to a variety of potential clients, whilst enhancing communication and understanding for quality outcomes.

“As litigation is inherently stressful, boutique firms should strive to adopt technological [practices] that provide clients with greater accessibility to their lawyer and legal documents. Providing great levels of transparency can allow boutique firms to connect with clients in a deeper and more meaningful way than ever before,” she added.

“If you can dream it, you can do it. While every vision has its challenges in the early stages of bringing to life, it is within all of us to break down those mental barriers that can get in the way of our aspirations becoming our reality.

“I have been there firsthand, where a knock on my confidence caused a downward spiral; however, with perseverance, I was able to make it to the other side and realise that all the challenges were worth it. I have never felt more fulfilled in my legal career.”