Meet our team.
Duncan Holmes is one of Sydney's senior and most experienced family law practitioners. He is one of the first lawyers appointed as an Accredited Specialist in Family Law in New South Wales, and his experience of over 35 years in the law enables him to provide comprehensive advice and assistance to his clients.
In 1993 Duncan was appointed a member (as the Law Society's Nominee) of the Legal Aid Review Committee in Family Law, pursuant to the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW), and served on that committee until 2010. He also acts as a Court Appointed Independent Children’s Lawyer for children in difficult and complex parenting cases, and has done so continuously for over 23 years.
Duncan’s expertise in family law is widely recognised and respected. He gives expert evidence in family law related cases, is a speaker at legal education seminars and has a breadth of practice that sets his practice apart. Duncan is also an author of texts for law students. He has written two books in the Lexis Nexis Students Companion Series – ‘Family Law’, now in it’s 6th edition, and ‘Torts’, now in it’s 8th edition.
Laura Donnelly is a Family Law Specialist, accredited by the Law Society of New South Wales. She has practised almost exclusively in the areas of family and children’s law since her admission.
Laura is approved by the Attorney General’s Department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and has been acting as a mediator in family law disputes since 2011.
Laura's qualifications include a Bachelor of Communications and Bachelor of Laws. She commenced her practice with the Legal Aid Commission in the ACT before joining Duncan in 2008 in private practice at Slade Manwaring Solicitors.
Laura’s initial experience at Legal Aid has led her to develop a practice and reputation for dealing with the most complex of parenting disputes. She has extensive experience in financial matters, including resolving those for high-net-worth clients, and provides advice on a volunteer basis for Women's Legal Service.
Alicia Elliott is a Family Law Specialist, accredited by the Law Society of New South Wales. She practises exclusively in family law and provides clear guidance and advice on all aspects of family law, including divorce, property matters, parenting issues, child support, spouse maintenance and de facto relationships. Alicia also provides advice on a volunteer basis for Women's Legal Service.
Alicia is a lawyer dual qualified in Australia, and England and Wales. She has completed her Masters of Law, specialising in Family Law, and has successfully represented clients in all areas of family law, acting in complex financial cases, including high net worth matters, valuation disputes and those relating to family companies and trusts.
Alicia is empathetic towards her clients, while providing focused guidance and advice. She strives to minimise the emotional distress caused to her clients, as well as aiming to provide them with the support and resources to navigate through a difficult family breakdown.
Prior to admission to practise as a solicitor, Melanie Stern gained invaluable experience as a legal associate to Judges of the Family Court of Australia. This experience provided her with a useful insight into judicial decision-making and exposed her to a range of advocacy styles.
Since admission, Melanie has worked exclusively in family law, recently completing her Master of Applied Law (Family Law). She has experience in a broad range of family law matters, including divorce, parenting matters, property and financial issues, child support, spouse maintenance and de facto relationships.
Melanie also provides advice on a volunteer basis for the Women's Legal Service.
Deena Palethorpe has practised exclusively in the area of family law since her admission. In 2015 Deena’s interest in family law led her to take up a position as Associate to a Judge in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. In this position Deena gained invaluable experience about Court processes and procedures, and developed relationships with those within the Court.
Since leaving her role at the Court, Deena has worked as a solicitor in family law and is currently completing a Master of Laws, specialising in family law.
In addition to her Juris Doctor law degree, Deena holds a Bachelor of Social Science and has a particular interest in the intersection between social science and the law. Her broad range of experience in family law matters covers divorce, parenting, property and financial issues, child support, spouse maintenance and de facto relationships.
Deena was recently appointed Vice-Chair of the NSW Young Lawyers Family Law Committee and is a member of the Committee’s working group to provide submissions on the recent proposed changes to the family law system.
Alexander Butters gained foundational experience in family law, prior to his admission, with Legal Aid Newcastle in their Family Law division.
After admission, Alex secured a position as legal associate working with Justices of the Family Court of Australia. This experience provided Alex exposure to many and varied litigated family law matters, including the most complex. During his period as legal associate, Alex also sat with their Honours on the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia, gaining an understanding of and experience with the appeals process and the judicial reasoning of that court.
Alex joined the team in 2017. He is committed to guiding clients through the complexities of the family law system and ensuring a just and, as far as possible, efficient and amicable resolution for his clients.
Ryan McGreal is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. Ryan graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours and has practised exclusively in family law with Duncan, Laura and Alicia since his admission.
Ryan has provided advice to clients on a range of family law issues including divorce, spousal maintenance, property settlements and parenting matters.
Ryan brings with him several years of experience working within the mental health and drug and alcohol industry, experience which enables him to maintain an empathetic and understanding approach when guiding his clients through the complex and emotionally difficult outcomes often associated with family breakdown.
At Holmes Donnelly & Co., we know that finding the right family law representative is one of the most important choices you will make. That’s why we’re here to talk through your needs whenever you need us.