2023 has been a year of exciting changes, challenging projects and rewarding wins for our firm!

With this in mind, we thought it would be a great idea to reflect on the past year with some of

our team members.

In this final South East Lawyers blog for the year, Director Principal Melanie Heffernan, Wills

and Estates Lawyer Bridgette Dempsey, Receptionist Tracey Van Eck, and Graduate Lawyer

Michelle Navarro chat about their best and most important moments of 2023. Read on.



What were some of your professional highlights at the South East Lawyers practice in


Melanie: The first highlight that comes to mind is working with Dr Monica O’Malley in

transitioning her to an Employee-Owned Business Structure. Another was helping clients I had

set up businesses for and guiding them during their business operations to sell those

businesses and transition to retirement.


This year also brought opportunities to conduct two international transactions with sales of businesses and help clients recoup long-standing debts from companies that later went into liquidation. Being able to assist a client with a stressful regulatory body investigation that resulted in a successful defence was a very rewarding experience.


Finally, I would say that the big personal highlights were helping several young widows navigate their deceased husbands’ estates and give them at least a small sense of stability, in that legal side of their lives are under control and they have the support they need on this front.


Tracey: Seeing Melanie nominated for the Innovator of the Year award at the Women in Law

Awards was very exciting – as was seeing our happy clients after they had worked with our firm!


Michelle: Despite feeling that property law was my least favourite area of law, I discovered that

I enjoyed it thoroughly after I began working on more matters in this area. I like reviewing

property documents, advising top clients and helping them understand their rights and

obligations before they enter into a contract. Reviewing complex contracts and Section 32 has

been great, too!


Bridgette: My highlight was drafting more complex and tailored clauses in Wills and being able

to meet our client’s specific needs and circumstances.


What important lessons did you learn in 2023?


Melanie: I learned to be a better leader through study, conscious thinking and training a new

staff member.


Tracey: Two things that pop into my mind are to make sure you have a health check each year

– or every two years. I also learned how important it is to make sure your original documents are

always kept in a safe place. Damaged or lost documents make it very hard and stressful for

people who require these documents to use at a moments’ notice!


Michelle: That time management is a very important skill to have…


Bridgette: The continued importance of clear and upfront communication and following correct


What was your proudest moment of 2023?


Melanie: Creating a blueprint for legal professionals and businesses wanting to pursue an

Employee-Owned Business Structure and being a finalist at the Lawyers Weekly 2023 Women

in Law Awards.


Tracey: As a family we bought a new puppy this year, which has kept us busy!


Michelle: When an elderly client told me that a female always saved him. He said I was his

hero after helping him in his complex property settlement situation.


Bridgette: Every time a client says that creating their Will & Estate plan was much easier

than expected.


Do you have any general advice for clients heading into 2024?

Melanie: Seeing a lawyer can feel scary, but don’t bury your head in the sand about your legal

affairs. We are approachable, welcoming and here to help you!


Tracey: Make sure your Will and Powers of Attorney are up to date.


Michelle: Seek proper legal advice before signing any legal documents.


Bridgette: If your circumstances change, consider reviewing your Wills and Powers of Attorney

to make sure they are still in line with your wishes.


What are you most excited about for 2024?

Melanie: Big creative projects. Also attending a leadership conference in Canada.


Tracey: Going to Europe for the first time!


Michelle: I am looking forward to developing my legal skills and helping clients to make their

tricky matters easier…


Bridgette: Continuing to work together with my wonderful colleagues at South East Lawyers

and assist our clients with their Wills & Estates matters.


On behalf of our entire team, we thank you for working with South East Lawyers in 2023. We

are so grateful to be able to support you in creating better opportunities in your work, families

and lives. We will be back in 2024 to provide you with innovative, reliable legal solutions, and

we would like to wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year!