Our Team

We have an experienced team who can help you with all your legals needs

Our Team

Melanie Heffernan

Director Principal of South East Lawyers

LL.B, B.A.

“I enjoy helping people and I like problem-solving. Plain English is very important in our practice as it is professional, but it is also meeting people where they’re at.”

Melanie Heffernan is the level-headed, passionate Director Principal at the helm of South East Lawyers, bringing highly valued experience and a refined skillset to her role.

Originally hailing from country Victoria, Melanie knew from a young age – 11 to be exact – that being a lawyer was in her career trajectory. After volunteering at the Court in her hometown, Melanie attended Melbourne University, where she completed her Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts degrees, with a Hebrew language major. She undertook her articled clerkship with Ann Gambetta & Associates and has built an impressive legal career that saw her become a partner at her previous firm at 30 years old, before becoming Director Principal of South East Lawyers in 2016.

With a knack for complexity and creative thinking, Melanie works within many different areas of the law, including:

• Commercial and Business Law, including sales and purchases of businesses, agreements, terms and conditions, shareholder and unitholder agreements and disputes
• Litigation for matters in the Magistrates’ Court, County Court, Supreme Court and Federal Court
• Conveyancing, commercial property and owners’ corporations
• Trusts and asset structuring, including asset protection
• Retail leasing
• Deceased Estates
• Succession Planning, intergenerational wealth, Wills and Powers of Attorney
• Will challenges, acting on behalf of challenging parties and Executors
• Self-Managed Superannuation Funds
• Personal Property Securities Register
• Employee Ownership Structures

Melanie’s law practice and leadership at South East Lawyers is driven by helping people understand the law and their rights within it. Her ability to speak in plain English when explaining challenging legal concepts differentiates Melanie and the SE Lawyers team from others in the law space.

Melanie is a current Law Institute of Victoria’s Personal Properties Securities Group member and an acknowledged leader in the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth). She has spoken on several media platforms, including Joy FM and GMTV GotMoney, to educate the public on various legal matters. She is also involved in the development of “What the actual F*** Karen?” – a women led radio show dedicated to discussing issues such as ageism and misogyny that women face in society.

Beyond Melanie’s work for South East Lawyers and participation in creative projects also lies a passion for community. She joined the board of Cire Services Inc. in 2022, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing education, training and support for residents of all ages in the Yarra Ranges, Casey and Cardinia regions. Outside of work, her personal interests include studying Hebrew, teaching herself to complete a 4×4 Rubik’s Cube (having well and truly mastered the 3×3), not to mention making a mean tiramisu. Something many would not know about Melanie is that Canberra is her favourite holiday destination in Australia!

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Courtney Salter

Family Lawyer at South East Lawyers


“I am the most passionate about supporting people through their separation, with the hope that my involvement will streamline the process.”

With her practice based solely in family law, Courtney Salter provides her clients with a comprehensive and insightful approach when working through each matter with them.

Courtney’s interest in the legal system began through completing her first university degree, a Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice Administration), at RMIT University in Melbourne. Following this, she completed her Bachelor of Laws degree at Monash University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at College of Law and was admitted to practice in 2009. When discovering family law, it became clear that this was where she wanted to dedicate her career.

Courtney’s expertise extends to all family law matters, including property disputes, parenting issues, child support queries and intervention order proceedings. She is also a member of the Law Institute of Victoria and the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

With all the challenges that separation can bring, Courtney strives to minimise the emotional and financial tolls it can have on clients and their families. She does this by encouraging each party to finalise their matters and reach agreements as quickly and amicably as possible so that they can move forward and truly thrive. Should Court proceedings be necessary for a client matter, Courtney is sensible and focused, drawing on her extensive experience representing and guiding clients in the Family Court.

An empathetic practitioner who has a great sensitivity for matters relating to domestic violence, Courtney is a strong advocate for the protection of her clients and their families. She regularly assists people of all genders experiencing domestic violence and works with local support and counselling services to help improve the lives and well-being of her clients.

Outside of her work, Courtney enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching crime documentaries and listening to comedy podcasts. She’s an avid fan of the beach and escapes the city to soak up the sun on a regular basis. Something that not many people know about Courtney is that she is a keen participant in local netball and rocks the Goal Attack position!

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Bridgette Dempsey

Wills and Estates Lawyer at South East Lawyers


“I enjoy solving problems and helping people through legal processes, making things as easy and straightforward as possible for clients.”

Lawyer Bridgette Dempsey knows the importance of clear communication and is naturally skilled at simplifying complex concepts for her clients.

A studious learner from an early age, Bridgette’s introduction to the law began when she undertook Legal Studies during VCE, also completing work experience at the Ringwood Magistrates Court. Bridgette attended Monash University after high school, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws degree. Bridgette also holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Leo Cussen Centre for Law. She was admitted to practice in Victoria in April 2018, joining the South East Lawyers team in July of that same year.

Working alongside the South East Lawyers senior practitioners, Bridgette focuses on Wills and Estates, Retirement Villages and related matters. She has proven to be a highly valued presence and team member through her natural aptitude for the law and resolving matters within it.

With a kind and professional approach, Bridgette is passionate about making challenging concepts as straightforward as possible for each client. Whether assisting in creating a Will or offering advice in Estate planning, she seeks to empower clients to make informed decisions about their wishes and needs.

With a fondness for music, Bridgette is a keen violinist and has previously played in a Celtic band. During her free time, she enjoys reading novels and embracing her competitive side by playing board games with friends.

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Michelle Navarro

Graduate Lawyer at South East Lawyers


“I love working with people and enjoy helping them resolve their issues.”

Michelle Navarro is our most recent addition to South East Lawyers, acting in a Graduate Lawyer role to assist our commercial law and property teams.

With diverse qualifications and consistent career experience, Michelle brings various skills and insight to South East Lawyers. She first graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy in 2001, which later saw her work for over 15 years as a Forensic Accountant and Fraud Investigator. She also briefly worked as a registered Tax Practitioner.

A hard worker passionate about building her knowledge, Michelle completed her post-graduate degree in Business Forensics at Melbourne University in 2011, followed by a Juris Doctor (Master of Laws) degree ten years later in 2021 at RMIT University. The following year, she completed her coursework requirement for a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at The College of Law in April 2022.

Between earning her qualifications and joining South East Lawyers, Michelle also worked as a lawyer for victims of crime, debt recovery and personal injury matters. Michelle was instrumental in the setting of a precedent with VOCAT, being the first lawyer in Victoria to obtain funding for her client to purchase a caravan to reside in. She thoroughly enjoys working with people and helping them to resolve their legal matters as effectively as possible.

Outside of work, Michelle loves tending to her pets and veggie garden. She also loves watching the reality television show Alaskan Bush People, which she considers a fascinating look into human nature and survival. Michelle also enjoys playing a competitive game of table tennis and watching quiz shows – having once been selected to appear on one herself!

Denise Parks 

Conveyancing Clerk at South East Lawyers

With over 40 years of experience in residential, off the plan and commercial conveyancing, Denise Parks brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to every property transaction she works on.

Denise began her career as a Titles Office Clerk at Morris Komesaroff Aarons & Co. As a part of this role, she regularly attended the Land Titles Office and State Revenue Office to assist in completing title transfers and other essential tasks. Denise continued to work in conveyancing for several firms in Victoria and New South Wales, now acting as the first point of call for all of our conveyancing matters at South East Lawyers.

Working in our property team, Denise provides a well-executed experience for our clients, from their initial instructions to settlement. She was at the forefront of electrical conveyancing in Victoria, mastering new technologies such as the PEXA system and working directly with the PEXA team and the State Revenue Office to ensure that it continues to be innovative and optimised for the future. Ultimately, she is an individual who is passionate about bettering her industry and her clients’ experiences within it.

Beyond the world of conveyancing, Denise is an avid green thumb and enjoys taking a leisurely walk when she can. She also previously played the piano and violin and loves the rare slice of mud cake.

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Angela Adams

Accounts Manager at South East Lawyers


Angela joined South East Lawyers as our Accounts Manager in April 2017. Originally seconded on a one year contract, Angela has proved herself as an asset to our firm and has been extended on a permanent basis.

Angela holds a Bachelor of Accounting from Monash University and is a registered tax agent. She is responsible for all financial matters in our firm, including raising invoices and collecting debtors.

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Tracey Van Eck –

Receptionist at South East Lawyers

South East Lawyers Receptionist Tracey Van Eck is the first voice you speak to when contacting our team. Her polite, attentive and cheerful manner makes her a strong communicator and an excellent facilitator between our lawyers and clients.

Initially supporting us as a casual relief receptionist, Tracey’s strong customer service and administration background, partnered with her ability to adapt and attend to our clients’ needs, was highly impressive. She was quickly promoted to a permanent position in our team in July 2019 and has continued to assist us in facilitating appointments, queries and service delivery with professionalism and warmth.

Whether speaking to clients on the phone, via email, or in person, Tracey consistently communicates thoughtfully and clearly relays often crucial information from our team. Her valued contribution enables South East Lawyers to operate smoothly and our clients to feel supported and prepared for each stage of their legal matters.

Outside of South East Lawyers, you will find Tracey enjoying time at home, and when Saturday arrives, she is up early exploring her local market. Tracey is a big lover of music, spending time with friends and family, and relaxing with a glass of wine in hand. Her constant companion is her beloved Jack Russell, Millie. As for a secret talent, her family claims her ability to bargain for the best deal when returning an item for a refund impresses them the most!


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