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  • February 17, 2021

    Breanne Snapp: On Advancing Women Lawyers

    Breanne L. Snapp is president of the Legal Association for Women (LAW). Find out more about Snapp and the association that advances the interests of women in the legal profession.
    Breanne Snapp and family

    Breanne Snapp and her husband Wade Pittman pose for this photo from December 2019 with their daughter Bianca – just a few weeks old – and their cat, Precious.

    Feb. 17, 2021 – Wisconsin lawyers practice in every aspect of law – and their backgrounds and skills encompass the great variety of life in Wisconsin.

    This year, we are introducing you to the leaders of Wisconsin law-related organizations that serve diverse communities.

    Meet Breanne L. Snapp, president of the Legal Association for Women (LAW). Based in Dane County, LAW is an association for lawyers and other legal professionals concerned about issues affecting women in legal and law-related professions.

    What led to your current job?

    Coming out of law school, I knew that I wanted to be an advocate, but was unsure of exactly where I’d land. I caught a break and was hired at Habush Habush & Rottier in Madison to work as a contract attorney on a water contamination case. Then I became an associate with the firm, and eventually a shareholder, where my path continues to evolve. Recently I’ve become more involved in our personal injury work, which I’m really enjoying.

    I’m lucky and thankful to say that I started my career at Habush Habush & Rottier, and I hope to be here until I retire! It’s an excellent fit for me, and an extremely supportive and collaborative firm environment.

    What’s going on in your life right now?

    I’m currently navigating the challenges (and joys!) of being a new mom and a practicing attorney. There are only so many hours in the day, and it can be difficult to make adequate time for family, work, and self-care. To quote the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “You can’t have it all, all at once.” I will say that I’ve become more efficient in my practice.   

    How did you become involved in LAW?

    I joined LAW as soon as I graduated – I learned about it at the reception after our swearing-in ceremony. I thought it would be really helpful and inspiring to participate in a group dedicated to women practicing law in Dane County. I also didn’t know a whole lot of classmates who stayed in Madison, so it was great to make some new friends.

    After I joined Habush Habush & Rottier, I was encouraged to get involved in activities outside the firm, and the LAW board was an excellent local opportunity. Prior to being elected president, I served for several years as co-chair of our annual Marygold Melli Achievement Award, which honors individuals who have made substantial contributions to the interests of women in the law. The event is incredibly inspiring, and I always come away with renewed motivation to live up to these distinguished honorees in our community.

    What is LAW’s mission?

    LAW advances the interests of women in the legal profession. It was founded in 1974, in part, by the late Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, just before she was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Justice Abrahamson and her contemporaries didn’t feel at home in the Madison legal community at that time, so they decided to form a group tailored to women attorneys in the area.

    As LAW has evolved over the decades, the board broadened its focus to social justice and women’s issues outside the legal profession. For example, we now hold an annual silent auction to support Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. It’s become an incredibly successful event supported by many Madison law firms and local businesses.

    Most recently, our past president Eileen Dorfman focused on increasing diversity and promoting inclusivity within our organization and the broader legal community. She fostered a relationship with the U.W. Law School’s Black Law Student Association and collaborated with the State Bar of Wisconsin on issues such as sexual harassment. I will build on this momentum during my term as president.

    Board members for the Legal Association for Women

    Board members for the Legal Association for Women pose for a photo in 2016, following an award ceremony for the Marygold Melli Award. The annual award honors former U.W. Law School professor Marygold "Margo" Shire Melli (1926-2018) and celebrates a lawyer who made substantial contributions to the interests of women in the law, has achieved professional excellence, and has contributed significantly to the eradication of gender bias in the legal system.

    What else does LAW offer to its members?

    We hold monthly CLE luncheons (currently virtual), which are a great way to catch up, enjoy each other’s company, and learn a little something new. We also have several annual formal events, and more informal opportunities for networking and socializing. Since the U.W. Law School is right in our backyard, we stay connected with the students to provide some valuable mentorship.

    What are some challenges LAW faces?

    COVID-19 has obviously affected our membership, and we’ve dearly missed the gatherings we once took for granted.

    One of my first goals is keeping our board and members connected and engaged, even though we can’t get together physically. We’re all getting used to a virtual format, and we’re making the best of these challenging times. I also see many of my colleagues struggling to maintain their households and manage virtual schooling, all while working full-time job. I don’t know how they do it.

    What have you gained as a member of LAW?

    Via LAW, I get to know other women working in a variety of practice areas, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers. I enjoy learning about their jobs and their families. We are also a source of advice and referrals for each other. Many colleagues and board members have become good friends. I also get the opportunity to attend CLE sessions to learn about different areas of the law and to attend events within the broader legal community in Dane County.

    What would you say to someone thinking about joining LAW?

    LAW is a great way to put your roots down in the Madison-area legal community! Everyone is genuinely helpful and welcoming. Our CLE sessions are affordable and convenient.

    You don’t need to identify as a woman to join our organization. We have a several male judges and colleagues who participate consistently in our luncheons and events, and we really appreciate their support.

    What changes do you want to see in the legal profession?

    Although we see greater numbers of women and minority attorneys coming out of law school, the pipeline to leadership and pay equity remains problematic. We need to build meaningful partnerships and deliberately recruit, train, and promote diverse talent.

    The billable hour as a primary tool for evaluation also seems to be a major issue in larger firms. Hopefully, the profession will consider other measures of performance beyond the sheer number of hours billed.

    On a personal note, what are you looking forward to in the coming year?

    Like so many others, I hope to be able to travel and see friends again in 2021. I long for the Dane County Farmers’ Market and live music, the Terrace, and everything else that makes Madison so special in the summer. I also look forward to watching my one-year-old daughter Bianca develop into a little person. She becomes more fun every day!

    Associations Supporting Wisconsin Women Lawyers

    Two associations in Wisconsin support women lawyers:

    Look for a profile of AWL and its current president, Renee Nawrocki, coming soon.

    In Case You Missed It: Read About These Organizations and Their Leaders

    Find out more about these Wisconsin law-related organizations that serve diverse communities and about the lawyers who are leading them:

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