Our Team

Melanie Heffernan – Principal


Melanie returned to South East Lawyers in 2014 as a Senior Associate as part of the commercial team advising clients on superannuation, business structuring, asset protection and Personal Property Securities registration, amongst other things.

After graduating from Melbourne University, Melanie articled clerked under the tutelage of Ann Gambetta and was admitted to practice in 2006. In 2010 Melanie joined another law firm, becoming its Principal in 2012.

Her expertise also extends to the areas of property law, trusts, wills and estates.

Melanie is a current member of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Personal Properties Securities Group and is an acknowledged expert in the Personal Property Securities Act(2009)(Cth).

Melanie accepted the position of Partner in January 2016 after more than 10 years in the industry.

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Ann Gambetta – Senior Partner


Ann has over 30 years’ experience as a lawyer, practicing in areas such as commercial and business law, property law, wills and estates, and litigation. Ann’s extensive knowledge in these areas allows her to achieve excellent, practical and commercially sensible outcomes for her clients.

Ann was admitted to practice in 1984 and commenced solo practice in 1986. By 1993, she had opened Ann E. Gambetta & Associates (the forerunner of South East Lawyers) in Croydon.

Apart from owning her own legal practices, Ann is, and has been for many years, a successful owner of other businesses.

Ann is very active in the local community and is a past president of the Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Westpac Ruby Award recipient. She currently sits on the Maroondah Business Advisory Committee, applying her business acumen to projects with the Maroondah environs.

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Courtney Salter – Family Lawyer

Courtney was admitted to practice in 2009 after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice Administration) at RMIT and subsequently her Law Degree at Monash University.

Courtney has practised solely in family law, giving her an excellent knowledge base for all family law issues including property disputes, parenting issues, child support queries and intervention order proceedings.
Courtney is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria and the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. She regularly attends seminars to remain up to date with recent developments and industry best-practice.

Courtney is a strong advocate of encouraging parties to reach agreement and finalise matters as quickly and amicably as possible. She works in conjunction with local support services, mediation and counselling centres to achieve the best outcomes for her clients. In the event that Court proceedings are required, however, Courtney has extensive experience in drafting documents and representing clients throughout the Court process.

Courtney focuses on assisting clients to get through the process of separation and family breakdown with a minimum of stress and expense, and in a timely manner.

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Caroline Jeanne – Commercial Lawyer

Junior Associate, B.A. LL.B LL.M  GDLP

Caroline is an integral member of the firm’s commercial team. She brings mercantile experience from her previous roles, and is focused on resolving matters efficiently and effectively.

Caroline holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from Deakin University, a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne, and a Graduate Diploma from the Australian National University. She was admitted to practice in Victoria in 2016.

Caroline enjoys volunteering and using her legal skills to help those in need.

She has previously volunteered with the Springvale Monash Legal Service and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Clinic, and has undertaken pro bono work with the Salvation Army since 2016.Caroline is currently on maternity leave and will return in February 2019.

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Bridgette Dempsey – Junior Lawyer

Junior Lawyer, B.A. LL.B

Bridgette joined South East Lawyers as a Junior Lawyer in July 2018 after being admitted to practice in Victoria in April 2018. Bridgette holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts, both from Monash University. Bridgette also holds a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Leo Cussen Centre for Law.

As a Junior Lawyer, Bridgette is becoming a fundamental member of the firm’s commercial and estate planning team, learning from our highly experienced lawyers.

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Nicolette Bell – Office Manager

Nicolette’s role is pivotal in ensuring that South East Lawyers has a consistently well-run office that provides the highest level of support and service to the firm’s solicitors and, in turn, enabling South East Lawyers to deliver excellent service and attention to our clients.

Nicolette has worked in the legal industry since 2003 with several law firms in the Eastern Suburbs. Firstly starting as a receptionist, then working her way up to become a Law Clerk in the areas of Family Law and Conveyancing and subsequently Office Manager. In 2015 Nicolette accepted the role as Office Manager with South East Lawyers.

Nicolette is a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives, having undertaken her Certificate III in Business Administration (Legal), and her Advanced Diploma of Business in Legal Practice.

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Denise Parks – Conveyancer

Denise works closely with our property lawyers on a range of different transactions and has extended her skills to commercial property, trust acquisitions, superannuation fund purchases and subdivisions.

Denise commenced working in 1972 as a Titles Office Clerk for Morris Komesaroff Aarons & Co. In those days, title searches were written by hand, and staff had to manually find a connecting point for the property being sold by obtaining copies of plans from the Titles Office.

Since that time, Denise has worked for a number of firms in New South Wales and Victoria, where she has been responsible for handling residential conveyancing from a client’s initial instructions, through to settlement.

Denise has embraced electronic conveyancing through PEXA and accordingly, we are now able to offer our clients a more efficient conveyancing experience, with minimal paperwork and signatures.

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Angela Adams – Accounts Manager

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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Kathryn Smith – Legal Assistant

Kathryn is our Family Law Legal Assistant. Since her commencement with South East Lawyers in June 2016, she has worked closely with our Family Lawyer, Allana Bettess, in ensuring that our clients receive the highest level of service.

Kathryn has extensive experience in Family Law, having commenced her career in the legal industry in 1992. Despite the ever-changing rules and regulations in the industry, Kathryn has maintained a solid working knowledge of Family Law.

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Kathryn Smith – Legal Assistant

Kathryn is our Legal Assistant. Since her commencement with South East Lawyers in June 2016, she has worked closely with all of our Lawyers, ensuring that our clients receive the highest level of service.

Kathryn has extensive experience in a wide range of areas of law, having commenced her career in the legal industry in 1992. Despite the ever-changing rules and regulations in the industry, Kathryn has maintained a solid working knowledge of the different areas of in which the firm practises.

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Christine Foster – Receptionist

Christine commenced working with South East Lawyers in July 2018 as our receptionist.  Christine is the first port of call, in assisting clients in person and on the phone.  Her cheerful disposition immediately helps clients know that with South East Lawyers they are in good hands. 

Christine manages the presentation of our reception and conference rooms.  She also handles client enquiries and administrative duties.

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Get in Touch

Suite 1, 1 Railway Crescent, Croydon Vic 3136
Phone: 03 9723 5300
Fax: 03 9723 9154
Email: Click to reveal Email