Orange’s first all-female law firm is drawing on a shared vision to understand their clients’ needs and service their community in all aspects of the law.
Tell us about your business Cheney Suthers Lawyers.
We’re a modern law firm focused on great relationships and positive outcomes. Our experienced lawyers are specialists in their fields, where they help clients navigate the law, empowering them with clear, sensible and strategic advice. We run a general law practice, which means we can provide a holistic service to our clients in all areas of the law. Dannielle and Alice are in training to become collaborative lawyers, a new area of practice dealing with family law. Alice is also an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. We have also opened an office in Molong where Kirsty works out of one day a week. Kirsty and our paralegals, Meaghan Denholm and Denise McDonald, have been providing pro bono legal advice and assistance after significant rainfall wreaked havoc on Molong and Eugowra in November 2022.
How is Cheney Suthers Lawyers unique? We have a fantastic network of accountants, bankers, agents, surveyors and more, making the process collaborative, efficient and effective. Achieving positive outcomes for our clients is our top priority – but we measure success in many ways. We take time to understand our clients’ commercial and personal goals to help settle disputes smoothly. We have new and vibrant offices at 173 Lords Place, Orange. The architectural design by Benedict Designs creates a happy place for our team to come to work.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business? Dannielle: Seeing our team of staff grow and thrive with us. The flexibility to enjoy the early years of our son’s life prior to him starting school this year.
Kirsty: Being able to shape the business and take it in our own direction.
Alice: The flexibility. Sure, I am working much harder and more hours which is inevitable as a business owner, but I feel it is on my (or my kids’
terms). I’m also grateful for my working relationship with Kirsty and Dannielle.
What’s been the highlight of your career? Dannielle: Being a director of a law firm by the time I turned
28 and with our son in tow. Acquiring the firm in which I had my first real job has been a massive highlight. I started at Cheney Suthers when I was 19, working as a receptionist, just having finished the first year of my double degree (Law and Criminology). I worked and studied full-time to finish my degree.
Kirsty: Simultaneously becoming a director of a law firm and part of a family farming enterprise when my husband and I moved away from our salaried positions to establish our own business. Was it scary? Definitely. Fast forward a few years and we have grown both enterprises - and a few grey hairs!
Alice: Attaining my specialist accreditation in family law last year has definitely been one of my highlights. That course was seriously tough, and I did not get much sleep in 2022.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today? Dannielle: The expectation to be a good leader and a good mother, all at once. I read a quote once by Amy Westervelt that said “We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.”
Kirsty: Discussing the success of your business as a female can feel like bragging but it is important not to downplay your own worth. This is where joining leadership and business groups is phenomenal as it gives access to mentors and peers. This has really been a driving force behind our sponsorship of events like The Huddle hosted by Pip Brett, founder of Jumbled.
Alice: Gender bias. A perceived barrier we’ve observed is that we have three female leaders and the optics “aren’t good” and that we have a “female problem”. It blows my mind. For over 100 years in Orange, there have only been law firms with male leaders and that was considered normal. We’re the first all-female partnership in Orange – and not intentionally – just because the three of us lined up with the same values at the right time.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you have ever received? Dannielle: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are!
Kirsty: I say this one at least once a week to my clients, “do not go into business with someone unless you have planned your exit strategy”. Planning an amicable exit in advance means that you’re not only planning a profitable exit on your terms - and without the emotion.
Alice: Outsource to people who have the skillset you don’t. They will, without a doubt, do a better job than you could have done.
What's one thing every woman should know about being successful in her career and life? Dannielle: Persevere! And don’t stop learning from your peers, colleagues and associates.
Kirsty: Network. The people you meet will have connections that you may not need today but when you have a series of insurance law cases and happen to find senior counsel basically in your backyard or desperately need someone to pick up your child from the school gate, these relationships will keep you going.
Alice: Take every opportunity. I had a plethora of jobs before my law career – hospital admin, photo and radio journalism, ghostwriting, private investigator work, babysitting – you name it. In every job, I picked up a skill or a network connection.
Location: ORANGE | NSW
Facebook: Cheney Suthers Lawyers
Photography: Kirsten Cunningham