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.


Katy Barnett

Law Consultant

Katy is a Professor at Melbourne Law School, however, Katy is not your typical 'ivory tower academic'.  She has significant experience in the 'real world' too, with time spent working on contentious matters in top tier law firms.

Katy has published widely on Remedies Law and is recognised as a world-expert in the field of remedies for breach of contract but that’s not all she has published on: in 2022, Katy and Jeremy Gans published “Guilty Pigs” which was cited by the High Court of Australia in Farm Transparency International Ltd v New South Wales [2022] HCA 23 (and yes, there really are cases about guilty pigs)!  In 2016, Katy received the Barbara Falk Award for excellence in teaching, so you can be reassured that she is a great communicator and will not bamboozle with legalese.

A modern-day renaissance woman, in her free time Katy enjoys spending time with her family, and art and calligraphy. She has also written a Young Adult fiction novel, 'The Earth Below', which was published by Ligature in 2019. Katy is qualified in Australia.


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Matthew Cranswick-Smith


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.


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.

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Nicole Harrowfield


For anyone who doubts that lawyers can make sense of the “technical stuff”, there’s Nicole. Not only is she a qualified Australian lawyer, Nicole also has a Bachelor of Forensics (Forensic Biology & Toxicology) and a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science)! So there isn’t a single detail of any drawing, specification, patent, trade mark or technical document that escapes her careful analysis.

Prior to becoming a commercial lawyer, Nicole was a trade mark examiner and a patent examiner with IP Australia. Having this inside knowledge means that Nicole’s advice on intellectual property is cutting edge insightful.

When she’s not dazzling our clients with her expertise, Nicole’s a proud cat mum to one very lucky cat, Darwin.

Professional support team

Sharpe & Abel has a team of professionals to support the legal team and add value where it matters.


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.


Staci Malan

Team Administrator

Staci works as our Team Administrator, coordinating meetings, scheduling calendar events and interacting with people daily.  Staci is the friendly, proactive co-worker that everyone wants on their team.

With more than 20 years experience in administration, Staci is an ambitious, outgoing individual who seeks happiness in everything! Her passion is to contribute, support, and be the difference.

She has qualifications in Six Sigma, Microsoft Teams, Business Writing, Marketing Fundamentals and Digital Marketing.


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