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Meet the Respect team

Danielle Zetzer, Principal

Dani has become a positively disruptive presence in Australian family law. Her approach of “doing divorce differently” is rapidly gathering momentum as she continues to push for ways to challenge the traditional model of family law practice.

Dani studied law as a John Monash Scholar at Monash University, finishing with Honours in 2008, and has exclusively practised family law since then. She established Respect Legal, a boutique family law firm in Bentleigh, Victoria, and built a team of highly skilled, passionate and committed lawyers to support her vision. The firm focuses on outcomes that strengthen families. Dani works tirelessly to help keep families and children out of the court system wherever possible and is an incredible support to her clients, both legally and emotionally, through this difficult chapter in their lives.

As a collaboratively trained lawyer, her strength lies in her compassion, strength and healthy no-nonsense attitude. A self-confessed “nerd”, Dani has a special interest in complex matters, both parenting and financial.

Having experienced separation herself and as a single mum of three, Dani understands her clients needs and goes above and beyond to provide holistic support to her clients.

Mei Ngo,
Senior Family Lawyer

Having practised exclusively in family law since her admission, Mei Ngo is a seasoned family lawyer known for her adept handling of a wide range of family law matters and supporting the LGBTIQA+ community.

Mei’s practice encompasses complex cases, including contentious parenting disputes often marked by serious family violence, mental health issues, sexual abuse, or substance abuse. Mei also excels in negotiating and resolving intricate property disputes involving large asset pools and setting aside financial agreements.

In addition to her proficiency in these areas, Mei has a track record of successfully managing urgent family law applications, spousal and de facto partner maintenance cases, financial agreements, and child support arrangements. Her expertise extends to representing clients in Intervention Order matters at the Magistrates’ Court.

Mei’s approach to her legal practice is deeply rooted in recognizing the individuality of each client and their unique circumstances. She approaches her work with empathy, striving to identify their specific objectives and goals, and tailoring legal strategies to align with their needs and aspirations.

One of Mei’s passions lies in working with the LGBTIQA+ community. Mei has a commendable history of volunteer work with organizations like the Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Southport Community Legal Service, demonstrating her commitment to making a positive impact in the legal field.

Beyond her professional life, Mei has a fascinating background as a former professional fighter. Today, she enjoys the quieter role of being a dedicated mother to two feline companions. Outside of her legal commitments, Mei’s dual identity as a gym enthusiast during the day and a couch potato at night reflects her multifaceted interests and balanced lifestyle.

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Amanda Firth,
Senior Family Lawyer

Amanda started her career in law back in 1994 working as a Junior in a legal office, and from there she progressed into support roles in a larger law firm.⁠ She studied Law in 2007 at Deakin University and got her Bachelor of Law in 2014. During this time she was also a single parent to her two young children.

In 2015 Amanda was admitted to practice at the Supreme Court of Victoria, and the High Court of Australia, where she worked in the areas of family law, conveyancing, probate, wills and estates, before choosing to specialise in family law.⁠

Amanda’s strength lies in her compassion for her clients and her sheer determination to help them find amicable resolutions. Having been through separation and co-parenting herself, Amanda brings to the table a strong sense of experience, empathy and foresight.  She is also a mum to two Ragdoll cats who live like absolute queens.⁠

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Sarah Tuckerman, Family Lawyer

Sarah moved from Sydney to Melbourne prior to joining the Respect family.  She worked in the family law realm as a paralegal throughout her university studies before graduating and becoming a lawyer.

She is passionate about supporting clients who are navigating the complex waters of the family law system with as much clarity and dignity as possible. Sarah will assist you in reaching an outcome that is best suited to your family.

Outside of the law, Sarah is a songwriter and enjoys writing and performing at local venues.

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Knarik Ovakimian, Family Lawyer

Knarik graduated with a Master of Laws (Juris Doctor) from Monash University in 2015. She’s also fascinated by Psychology, having completed a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University prior to studying law.

During her studies, Knarik volunteered at the Monash Oakleigh Legal Service in various areas of law. She also volunteered in the Family Law Assistance Program at the same legal service and gained experience in the areas of civil and commercial litigation, building disputes and dispute resolution whilst working at a suburban law firm. Knarik has also honed her skills of dispute resolution working at the Financial Ombudsman Service to resolve disputes between consumers and financial services providers. Prior to joining the Respect Family Law team, Knarik worked at another law firm, where she gained experience in litigation and dispute resolution with a focus on family law and contested estate matters. With a record of successful outcomes for families, she brings to the table an ability to truly connect with her clients, to listen to their needs and to guide them through a resolution pathway with compassion, heart and a genuine ambition to keep them out of court.
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Knarik Ovakimian, Family Lawyer

Knarik graduated with a Master of Laws (Juris Doctor) from Monash University in 2015. She’s also fascinated by Psychology, having completed a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University prior to studying law.

During her studies, Knarik volunteered at the Monash Oakleigh Legal Service in various areas of law. She also volunteered in the Family Law Assistance Program at the same legal service and gained experience in the areas of civil and commercial litigation, building disputes and dispute resolution whilst working at a suburban law firm. Knarik has also honed her skills of dispute resolution working at the Financial Ombudsman Service to resolve disputes between consumers and financial services providers. Prior to joining the Respect Family Law team, Knarik worked at another law firm, where she gained experience in litigation and dispute resolution with a focus on family law and contested estate matters. With a record of successful outcomes for families, she brings to the table an ability to truly connect with her clients, to listen to their needs and to guide them through a resolution pathway with compassion, heart and a genuine ambition to keep them out of court.
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Sharon O'Toole,
Legal Practice Manager

Sharon has over three decades of experience in family law. Throughout her career, Sharon has gained the type of real life experience that gives her unparalleled insight into the challenges faced by our clients. Having experienced separation herself, Sharon brings a great deal of compassion to each case, always making herself available when our clients need it most.

Sharon has over three decades of experience in family law. Throughout her career, Sharon has gained the type of real life experience that gives her unparalleled insight into the challenges faced by our clients. Having experienced separation herself, Sharon brings a great deal of compassion to each case, always making herself available when our clients need it most.

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Sharon O'Toole,
Legal Practice Manager

Sharon has over three decades of experience in family law. Throughout her career, Sharon has gained the type of real life experience that gives her unparalleled insight into the challenges faced by our clients. Having experienced separation herself, Sharon brings a great deal of compassion to each case, always making herself available when our clients need it most.

Sharon has over three decades of experience in family law. Throughout her career, Sharon has gained the type of real life experience that gives her unparalleled insight into the challenges faced by our clients. Having experienced separation herself, Sharon brings a great deal of compassion to each case, always making herself available when our clients need it most.

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Julia Barnard,
Office Manager

Julia has been working in the legal field since 2006, across all areas of the law.  Her previous roles included PA to the director,  paralegal, and trust account administrator in various Melbourne-based law firms.  However, her real passion is in family law, with an interest in deceased estates, probate, wills and conveyancing.

Some of her certifications include:

Cert III and Cert IV Legal Business Administration

Certificate IV in Legal Services

Certificate in a Conveyancing

Certificate in Cyber Security

Julia is a mother to her 10-year-old daughter and has an ongoing love affair with health, fitness nutrition and food.

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Bella Davies,
Legal Assistant

Bella brings her enthusiasm and diligent work ethic to our Front Of House each morning. She is an amazing support to our team and the warm, friendly face that greets our clients when they enter the Respect workplace.

Bella is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International studies at Deakin University. She discovered her passion for law during high school legal studies, and intends on pursuing a career in family law after she graduates university. She loves being a part of the Respect Family Law team getting to witness the amazing care they put into their work.

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Bella Davies,
Legal Assistant

Bella brings her enthusiasm and diligent work ethic to our Front Of House each morning. She is an amazing support to our team and the warm, friendly face that greets our clients when they enter the Respect workplace.

Bella is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International studies at Deakin University. She discovered her passion for law during high school legal studies, and intends on pursuing a career in family law after she graduates university. She loves being a part of the Respect Family Law team getting to witness the amazing care they put into their work.

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Yara Halabi, Creative Director

A single mother of 3, and a London native, Yara joined Respect Legal in August 2021, bringing a unique journey and life experience to our law firm. Prior to having her children, she spent nine years in marketing, in Melbourne’s music and arts industry and 3 years running a London based DJ agency.

During a critical period in her life, Yara crossed paths with our founder, Dani, just four months after the birth of her twins.  Dani represented Yara during her separation where a deep bond evolved into a lasting friendship.

Upon the finalisation of her separation,  Dani appointed her as our creative director. Yara’s ability to infuse empathy into our messaging is a testament to her personal experience, underscoring how family law, when practiced with respect, care and dedication, can create a profound and positive impact on the lives and children of our clients. Her dedication to social justice and making a difference offer unique perspectives that have played a key role in differentiating our firm.

 
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Yara Halabi, Creative Director

A single mother of 3, and a London native, Yara joined Respect Legal in August 2021, bringing a unique journey and life experience to our law firm. Prior to having her children, she spent nine years in marketing, in Melbourne’s music and arts industry and 3 years running a London based DJ agency.

During a critical period in her life, Yara crossed paths with our founder, Dani, just four months after the birth of her twins.  Dani represented Yara during her separation where a deep bond evolved into a lasting friendship.

Upon the finalisation of her separation,  Dani appointed her as our creative director. Yara’s ability to infuse empathy into our messaging is a testament to her personal experience, underscoring how family law, when practiced with respect, care and dedication, can create a profound and positive impact on the lives and children of our clients. Her dedication to social justice and making a difference offer unique perspectives that have played a key role in differentiating our firm.

 
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Thinking about
Separating?

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