Ellen Snedden: ADLS Newly Suited committee

This profile is part of a series on ADLS committee convenors

Ellen Snedden

Ellen Snedden

Where do you work, what’s your role?
I am a senior associate solicitor at Smith and Partners.

Where did you study?
I started my university studies at the University of Otago (two years) and completed a BA/LLB at the University of Auckland.

What’s been your career to date?
I’ve been with Smith and Partners, working in family law for approximately seven years.

How long have you been a member of ADLS?
Smith and Partners signed me up as a member of ADLS when was admitted to the bar. We have always been interested in ADLS and the way it differentiates from other providers.

How long have you been involved with ADLS committees and which committees have you worked with?
I’ve been on ADLS committees for at least four years, firstly with the Family Law Committee and, more recently, as the convenor of the Newly Suited committee (since its inception). This year I was elected to the ADLS council.

Why is committee work important?
A number of reasons. It affords practitioners the opportunity to be involved in improving the profession; it’s a forum to brainstorm, share ideas, make submissions and resolve issues.

Committees permit a collaborative group of practitioners to speak for, and on behalf of, particular groups within the profession.

They also help to ensure relevant programs and services are provided to update, educate and support members of the profession.

How do ADLS committees make a difference?
Committee members share their experience, contribute war stories, highlight issues and provide other information from their practice area to help improve it for others.

This can be done through submissions for law reform, representation at events, providing tips and tricks through articles, education and awareness through CPD, assisting with collegial events and networking opportunities.

What’s been the most notable achievement or biggest focus of your committee in the past few years? Why was that important?
The inception of the Newly Suited committee, which is focused on students and lawyers with up to five years’ post qualification experience.

This has led to a group of newly-suited practitioners providing input into relevant events and programs, and ensuring a smooth transition between graduating and working and in the first few years in the workforce. There is more help available to young lawyers now than ever before.

It is great that ADLS is getting involved with universities and providing the required support. It’s about building education and awareness, and showing the support that is available.

It’s important that the newly-suited know someone’s got their back, know where to go and how to speak up. We are trying to make things easier and safer for young practitioners so they enjoy the early stages of their careers and are more likely to stay working in the law.

They’re the future of the profession.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming involved in an ADLS committee?
Do it. There are lots of reasons to join.

It gives you another hat, promotes networking, brings diversity to your practice and gives you the opportunity to give back to the profession.

You’ll also get exposure to different ways of thinking, all of which will help you develop and progress your career.

The Newly Suited committee is looking for members. We’re different from other committees in that our appointments are for only 12 months. If you are interested in joining, contact Melissa Fini.

What’s the biggest issue facing your specialist practice area at the moment? And how does that affect lawyers, their clients and New Zealand?
The #MeToo movement. Not only sexual harassment but all forms of power imbalances/ dynamics.

Newly-suited practitioners need to be equipped with knowledge and tools for handling these sorts of situations should they be exposed to them. They should not be scared to speak up.

If practitioners are dealing with such issues, they will likely be distracted from their work, which in turn affects clients. ADLS is supporting newly-suited lawyers by helping to address these issues, step by step.

We need to make the legal profession a safer place and give New Zealand confidence in us as a profession.

What’s the best kept secret about ADLS committees?
You get to help the profession and have a good time while doing it.

I don’t see what I do on committees and council as work; I see it as expanding my career and meeting new people along the way.

The people you get to meet, and the support you get from ADLS staff and fellow committee members (they are all so accommodating and approachable), is invaluable.

To find out more about ADLS committees, contact Melissa Fini: melissa.fini@adls.org.nz

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