Breanne Snapp is a tireless advocate for her clients, whether they are fighting for unpaid overtime wages or seeking damages after a ruptured gas pipeline polluted their groundwater.
“You are there on the front lines helping clients as they get through their problems,” said Snapp, an attorney with Habush Habush & Rottier in Madison. “It’s your duty to be there and represent your client every step of the way and fight for them.”
Being an advocate for others has long been important to Snapp. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, Snapp earned a certificate in consumer health advocacy and worked as a patient advocate at the law school’s Center for Patient Partnership.
At Habash Habush & Rottier, Snapp primarily handles employment law cases, which she said can be challenging.
“They are complex, so it definitely keeps you on your toes,” she said. “I really enjoy being an advocate for my clients and helping them with their problems.”
Throughout the legal process, Snapp said it’s important to keep her clients engaged, whether a case is decided in less than a year or lasts two years or more.
“You have to keep your clients invested in the process and prep them for depositions and make sure they understand every step of the way,” said Snapp, who was honored as a Wisconsin Law Journal Up and Coming Lawyer in 2015. “I really use my interpersonal skills a lot in my job as I work closely with my clients.”
Beyond those interpersonal skills, writing and resource skills are also essential in what Snapp does every day.
“There’s a lot of problem-solving going on and just working to make sure clients understand the process,” she said.
Wisconsin Law Journal: What makes your work important to you?
Breanne Snapp: Working directly with people and being an advocate is very important to me. When employees have been cheated out of their hard-earned pay, they often feel helpless. Most individuals cannot afford to hire an attorney to recover lost wages or overtime. Having the opportunity to represent a group of employees and give them a voice is very rewarding.
WLJ: Who is your hero in the legal field?
Snapp: In terms of my legal education, Professor Emeritus Carin Clauss certainly laid the foundation for my interest in employment law. She is absolutely brilliant and a true champion of workers’ rights. Professor Clauss was one of just a handful of women to graduate from Columbia Law in 1963 and went on to become the first female solicitor of the Department of Labor.
Now that I am practicing, I have so many talented trial lawyers to look up to and learn from. But, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bob Habush, a true hero and champion of the little guy. One of the most impressive aspects of Bob’s career is his role in pioneering new areas of law, such as products liability. Countless products have been made safer for consumers by Bob’s work: vehicles, machinery, car seats, prescription drugs, height chairs — the list goes on. His career inspires creativity and ingenuity. Bob has taught all of us at the firm to look outside the box and pave our own way in the legal field.
WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Snapp: I try to stay active and keep time scheduled to exercise and just totally unplug from work. My husband and I jog and attend yoga classes together several times per week. I also try to stay connected to the law school and to the community through organizations like United Way.
WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Snapp: I would say one of the most common misconceptions is that class actions don’t end up benefitting the individual class members very much. In the employment context, this is simply untrue. Several years of unpaid overtime definitely adds up, and we have many class members receive damage awards in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Cases involving unpaid commissions are another example where class members receive substantial awards. This money can have a significant impact on workers’ lives. Even in consumer or antitrust cases where individual damages may be small, class actions serve an important role in holding corporations accountable.
WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Snapp: I had the opportunity to attend an event where UW Law alumnus Bill Shernoff spoke. He established the tort of insurance bad faith with a California Supreme Court case in 1979. At the time I was representing consumers in health insurance denials, so I was very moved by his work.
WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
Snapp: A case we are currently working on challenges mandatory arbitration agreements with class action waivers. The fight against forced arbitration is one of the most pressing legal issues of our time and has significant implications for consumer and employee rights.