Lawyers & Strategists

Lawyers & Strategists

Our clients are creating the future.

They’re producing intelligent built environments and infrastructure that keep us safe and comfortable. They’re rolling out technology that allows humans to connect and communicate. They’re coming up with clever ways to process resources, make new things and increase human capital.

We support them to make it all happen.

Industrial companies come to us for astute legal advice and strategic capacities. We get to know our clients so we can help them to avoid obstacles, optimise processes and focus on what they’re great at.

Our people are values-led and results driven. Hand on heart, we’re not afraid to say that core values permeate all that we do – competence, trust, love, freedom and security. It’s hard to put into words; you’ll just know and feel it when you engage with us.

Sharpe & Abel Team

Melissa Kirby leads our experienced team from Melbourne HQ but we share our know-how with clients all across Australia. Sharpe & Abel’s qualified people hail from different parts of the globe; diversity that opens doors for your business to change the world.


Melissa Kirby

Legal Director

Melissa Kirby is a lawyer and strategist who likes difficult problems, wherever and whenever they might occur. She specializes in working with engineering and technical professionals, supporting clients and keeping their businesses safe through difficult times during the Asian Financial Crisis, the Global Financial Crisis and all the times between.

Prior to founding Sharpe & Abel, Melissa was counsel at the NYSE listed multi-billion-dollar company, Honeywell, advising its Automation and Control Solutions business group in the Asia Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East regions and a director of its local subsidiary. Melissa has also headed up the legal, regulatory and compliance department of a major Australian utility company. She is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese and holds an LL.B from the Australian National University. Melissa is qualified in England and Wales as well as in Australia.

Matthew Cranswick-Smith

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Matthew, graduated from Southern Cross University in Music and Law.  This slightly unusual mix of disciplines demonstrates Matthew’s ability to be both creative and focused, and also rational and pragmatic.

Matthew is the go-to person for legal research, drafting documents and keeping the facts in order. He’s also a bit of an OSINT geek- what he can’t find probably doesn’t exist!

Matthew’s skills and experience in customer service coupled with his attention to detail and professionalism make him a valuable contributor to the team effort.

Richard Southall

Photo of Richard Southall
Photo of Richard Southall

Senior Associate

Sometimes things go wrong. Horribly wrong. Some will tell you “You need a bulldog”. Others will say “You need a greybeard”. But are those the only choices? 

Beating and biting rarely works as well as advertised and beards sometimes get in the way. But resolving disputes between companies always involves humans. Humans whose tempers fray, egos bruise- and whose companies are endangered.  

Meet Richard Southall, senior associate. For close on 20 years, Richard’s resolved the trickiest troubles with understated deftness and skill. All without bulldogs or beards.  


Neeta Krishna Kumar

Managing Associate

Neeta Krishna Kumar slices and dices the most complex technical and legal concepts with the ease and elegance of a Michelin five-star chef. She takes the lengthiest, most convoluted and confusing legal documents and produces clear, concise and commercially astute advice that saves our clients dollars.

Neeta is a world-class corporate lawyer, having advised on transactions valued over US$50B involving restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic investments for both foreign and domestic clients. Neeta runs our legal service delivery team and makes sure that our clients get what they need when they need it. Neeta is fluent in Hindi and Malayalam and holds an LL.B (honours) from the National University of Advanced Legal Studies in India and an LL.M from the National University of Singapore. Neeta is qualified in England and Wales as well as in Australia.


Steve Long


Steve Long makes numbers dance. He works closely with our lawyers to create robust and creative knowledge solutions that solve our clients’ problems. The insights that he has developed range from understanding the relationship between deliberate fire setting and environmental factors to the most strategic way for a client to turn an insolvency situation into a profitable long-term sales pipeline.

Steve is one of a small number of Chartered Mathematicians in the world, and holds a first-class degree and Masters in Mathematics from the University of Warwick.

Lei-Hing Praytil


Senior Associate

Lei-Hing brings a wealth of expertise and a can-do attitude. Her expertise in contract drafting and review protects our clients and prevents disputes ever arising.

Samantha Pepper


Team administrator

Samantha keeps the cogs and wheels nicely oiled and greased so our lawyers can focus on adding value to your business.

Want to talk to one of our experts?
Email or call 1300 135 459.