Lucy Stramandinoli and Anna Neilan have joined forces, bringing their 30 years combined experience, to Canberra’s newest, boutique, family law firm, Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law.
Both passionate about family law, Lucy and Anna have launched their new practice with a shared view that every client needs a resolution that is very tailored to their own personal circumstances. Wherever possible Lucy and Anna draw upon the good working relationships they have with other lawyers in the Canberra family law community to achieve positive outcomes.
Lucy and Anna also recognise the importance of great working relationships with professionals beyond their immediate peers. Family law cases frequently involve areas such as bankruptcy, estate planning and financial planning. “We have strong professional relationships with accountants, financial advisors, counsellors and non-family lawyers. These good relationships help us give our clients access to the other professional services they need such as financial planning, estate planning, counselling support or even recouping lost super as a consequence of a superannuation split” Lucy said.
“Where one spouse might try to hide, or dispose of assets, where the other spouse can’t get to them, we work with forensic accountants to bring those assets back onto the balance sheet,” Lucy outlined.
“In parenting cases, the involvement of a child psychologist can be quite crucial. With parenting cases, there is also a wide spectrum of issues that can arise, such as addiction, mental health problems, violence and sexual abuse. It is important to get the best outcome for the child. This is why having good professional relationships with counsellors, psychologists and referral services are important,” Anna said.
Both Anna and Lucy are constantly looking at continuing to build strong relationships with other professionals that share their approach in working together with clients to get the best outcome for their situation.
Both Lucy and Anna have a great deal of experience successfully litigating in courts and will advocate strenuously for clients if it gets to that point. However, “Our starting point is that court is the last resort.” Anna stated. Because of the pressures surrounding the family law Court system “We are always strategising about the best way to help clients resolve their matters out of Court. We are involved in many alternate dispute resolution processes such as negotiation and mediation, and we are part of the Canberra Collaborative Practice Group,” Lucy outlined. We listen to what our clients need and want through the process and tailor the relevant process to meet those particular needs or circumstances.
Both Lucy and Anna try to empower their clients to reach an agreement with the other side that works best for their client and their children.
“The impact on children and our clients of a lengthy court process can be very damaging, particularly as parties lose the control to make decisions about their family and instead they are asking a Judge to make a decision about their case” Anna explained.
Lucy explained that in almost all cases Judges encourage the parties to try to resolve their dispute between themselves because otherwise, they may not like the decision that a Judge imposes on them and it will cost them considerable time, money and stress to go through the Court process.
Lucy and Anna are clearly excited, and refreshed, to work with each other and are proud that the firm is their own.
“We are looking to expand to a reasonable size with a few more lawyers who share the same philosophy and work ethic, but we still want to maintain the personalised approach of a small firm,” Lucy concluded.
Anna and Lucy both volunteer for the Women’s Legal Centre and the Law Society and are members of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. They also undertake legal aid work from time to time.
Neilan Stramandinoli is also passionate about supporting charities. The firm has recently had some involvement in supporting the “Roses are Red” Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser. The plan is to be involved in supporting a different charity every few months or so.
Anna has bachelor degrees in law and commerce and is an accredited specialist in family law.
According to Anna she was drawn into family law while studying at ANU. She experienced it in the workplace and determined it was the right fit for her.
“I have been passionate about family law for 16 years,” Anna stated.
What interested Anna was being able to help people, when they are in their most vulnerable state and going through a process that is alien to them, while at the same time helping them work out what options are available to move forward.
Anna has worked for two of the larger family law firms in Canberra and felt it was time for her to branch out with a boutique firm of her own.
“I got to the stage where I wanted to bring a personal touch, and boutique style, to clients that are going through the family law process,” Anna explained.
“The lawyer you have is the one that will be with you throughout the process. So, it is important that our clients feel that they have someone that they can trust,” Anna outlined.
Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law are all about providing a personalised, professional and empathetic approach to their clients.
“Family law is often a process where people expose their dirty laundry to someone, being their lawyer. It can be very stressful and embarrassing for them. To do that they need to trust their lawyer” Anna said.
Born in Poland, Anna’s family moved to Australia when she was three.
Anna has two young children and a wonderful husband who has a background in practice management, and he has been helping Lucy and Anna in setting up their business.
“I was meant to be an accountant,” Lucy said seriously. But she fell into law after a friend got her a job answering the phones at Legal Aid when she had just finished high school.
Lucy was made the head personal assistant at a very young age and oversaw a team of six women and solicitors.
“I was exposed to criminal law, negligence and domestic violence. It was an incredible experience and showed me the power of the law, and how it could help vulnerable people,” Lucy recalled.
Lucy also worked for Kate Carnell for a couple of years as her personal assistant, and says that ‘Kate’ was ‘amazing’ to work for.
Lucy has been a single mum for a long time. She says that this brings out her ‘passion’ and ‘compassion’ for people going through the separation process.
Lucy worked for one of the larger family law firms in Canberra for 16 years. While working full time and raising her children, she studied law through the Legal Professional Admission Board at the University of Sydney. She obtained her Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice through the ANU.
“When I met Anna I absolutely admired the way that she mentored people, the respect she had in the community, and the appreciation her clients had for her,” Lucy stated.
Lucy and Anna worked together for the past five years before setting up Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law.
They have actually known each other for about 16 years. They first met while working for opposing law firms.
“We have always had a great relationship even working on opposing sides. We then worked together and found out we had the same work ethic and empathy for people. And the same philosophy about looking after clients,” Lucy said.
Lucy has Italian heritage and says that this is a big contributor to her ‘passionate and straight forwardness’.
Lucy’s two children are adults now and are both studying at university.