Our People

We are not the kind of lawyers who serve at a “distance”. We like to form a “team” with our clients – and above all, we are friendly provincial people with a wealth of experience in law and in making people feel at ease.

We’re the kind of team who think differently about accountability, implementation and follow up, and we are always exploring new ways of delivering legal services that make our clients’ experiences even better. Our focus always starts with a full respect for what clients value and expect.

There is no culture of individualism or ego here – we are a real team with no prima donnas (except when required in the courtroom!) That means that whilst we are always seriously on the ball, we are really into spreading our positive vibe around. In 2014, we were finalists in the NZ Law Award as “Employer of Choice.” We are proactive around skills development training for all staff with a particular focus on management and leadership. It’s a happy place to be.

THE DIRECTORS

Margot Harkness – Director
Nelson Office

Margot has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Otago. She practised as a lawyer in Auckland before making her home in Nelson.
Margot’s broad experience in law includes sales and purchases of homes and businesses, commercial law, trust and estate planning, estates administration and family law.
The Stevens Orchard team describe her as serious but fun, a sincere humanitarian, and in particular, a person with a strong presence of calm in stressful situations.
Margot is a trustee of Nelson Bays Community Law Service and Workstar (a supported employment agency in Nelson.)
Outside work, Margot loves cycling, spending time with family and indulging her interest in good food and fine wine.

“It’s our common ground of genuinely wanting to do good that drives us. It makes us approachable, supportive – but highly effective.”

margot@stevensorchard.co.nz

Tracy Sawtell – Director
Nelson Office

Tracy joined Stevens Orchard in September 2018 and brings significant experience in dispute resolution, litigation and advice work.

Tracy first commenced practice in Adelaide, South Australia, in 2001, working for a leading corporate firm specialising in personal injury, public liability and workers compensation disputes and litigation. She moved to London in 2006, where she worked in the area of health regulation as part of the General Medical Council’s in house legal team. Tracy also enjoyed a period working in house at Royal & Sun Alliance. From 2008 to 2010, Tracy worked in Sydney at a leading Australian firm specialising in high profile insurance advice and litigation work. Tracy moved to Nelson in 2010 with her family and has experience in family law, employment and immigration.

Tracy and her family enjoy the outdoor lifestyle that Nelson offers with fishing, camping and tramping on their list of favourite things to do.

tracy@stevensorchard.co.nz

Jane Duncan – Director
Westport Office

Jane is a farm girl at heart and is as equally comfortable in gumboots as she is in suits. She joined the busy Westport team in 2010.
Jane studied Law at Victoria University and was admitted to the bar in 2007. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology.
In Wellington she gained experience in business and property law, trusts, wills, relationship property and conveyancing.
The Stevens Orchard team describe her as a confident high-energy person, with a sharp mind and wit – and a great protagonist of the Westport office. Jane is a member of the Westport Rotary Club.
Outside work, Jane enjoys sport, the outdoors and a good book as well as spending time with her family.

“We’ve all got razor sharp legal minds. We don’t beat around the bush and are always ready for a challenge.”

jane@stevensorchard.co.nz

Louise Walsh – Nelson and Westport Office

Solicitor

Louise’s main focus is on providing property, finance and commercial law advice to clients.
Louise brings a breadth of skills and talent to our dynamic team, in addition to her experience as an adept legal practitioner, which included four years in resource management in London.
Louise is also an experienced businesswoman. Alongside her husband, Louise has helped to build an award winning SME business whilst raising their three children.  She is a trustee of the McKee Charitable Trust.
Her people skills and warm, empathetic nature, combined with her experience in the legal and business world, make her a strong addition to our team.

Outside of work Louise enjoys getting into the outdoors, skiing and paddle boarding.

louise@stevensorchard.co.nz

Katie Stallard – Nelson Office

Solicitor

Katie has a Bachelor of Laws as well as a Bachelor of Arts in History and Psychology.
She first started practicing law in Nelson in 2000, working mainly in the area of family law. She also practised employment and criminal law and volunteered at the Nelson Bays Community Law Service.
After the birth of her second child in 2005, Katie took some time out from the profession and began a 10-year career as a freelance editor of scientific manuscripts from Japan and China.

Katie decided to resume her legal career in 2019 and chose to do so at Stevens Orchard, again specialising in family law.

Outside of work, Katie enjoys supporting her children in their various pursuits and spending time in the great outdoors running, biking and tramping.

katie@stevensorchard.co.nz

Hellena Briasco  – Nelson Office

Solicitor

Hellena grew up in the Wairarapa and describes herself as a small-town girl at heart. After travelling overseas straight out of school, Hellena returned to the University of Canterbury, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts.

 After being admitted to the bar, Hellena went into private practice as a general practitioner. Always up for a new challenge, Hellena has worked in community law, the Queensland Government and more recently has been running own business as a legal editor.

 Hellena has recently returned to New Zealand and to Nelson where she has settled with her husband and young son.
Hellena joined Stevens Orchard Lawyers in February 2019 and is enjoying working in the areas of conveyancing, commercial law and estate administration.

 When not at work, Hellena enjoys being outdoors with her family, especially mountain biking or at the beach. She also likes a good book and a glass of wine.

hellena@stevensorchard.co.nz

OUR VALUABLE STAFF

Tamara Millard – Nelson Office

Legal Executive

Tamara spent the first 20 years of her legal career working as a Legal Executive in London where she undertook complex property transactions.
She moved to New Zealand in 2001 and took up practice with David Orchard in 2004.
amara’s strengths lie in her superbly efficient and competent work practices and her knowledge and expertise in dealing with conveyancing transactions. The Stevens Orchard team describe her as feisty, smart – and someone who radiates reliability whilst getting the job done with a smile.
Outside work Tamara’s interests include cooking, karate, socialising, shopping and spending time with her two sons.

tamara@stevensorchard.co.nz

Martha Phillips – Nelson Office

Practice Manager & Legal Executive

Born in Scotland, Martha emigrated to New Zealand in 2004.
Martha has a background initially in retail banking and then moved into IT.
Always one for a challenge, Martha commenced studying for the NZ Law Society Legal Executive Diploma which she successfully completed in 2016.   And here she is with us juggling jobs as practice manager and legal executive as well as wearing the IT guru hat!
Outside work Martha enjoys walking, yoga, skiing, cycling and gardening. She belongs to a book club, loves travelling, and is involved in mentoring through the Big Brother Big Sister programme.

martha@stevensorchard.co.nz

Charmaine Mitchell – Westport Office

Receptionist / Personal Assistant / Deeds Clerk

Charmaine is an integral part of the Westport office as personal assistant, deeds clerk and receptionist. She is also backup trust administrator.
The Stevens Orchard team describe Charmaine as “gorgeous” in the truest sense of the word – being bright, light hearted and highly effective.

Outside work, Charmaine continues to multi-task. She runs a household of 5, manages her lifestyle block and helps her partner with his building business – and enjoys walking, socialising and skiing.

charmaine@stevensorchard.co.nz

Giselle Fish – Nelson Office

Personal Assistant

Giselle grew up in the Nelson region and is an experienced Personal Assistant having worked at local law firms such as Pitt & Moore for 8 years and O’Donoghue Webber for 2 1/2 years before taking leave in March 2013 to raise her son.

Giselle joined Stevens Orchard in May 2015.  Her experience in office administration is invaluable in our busy office.

Outside of work Giselle enjoys spending time with her family and friends, taking her two whippets to Tahunanui Beach and going for walks with her son.  She also assists in the running of her husband’s business.

giselle@stevensorchard.co.nz

Amanda Holland – Nelson Office

Receptionist/Personal Assistant

Amanda joined Stevens Orchard in February 2019, directly from a publishing background. Her colleagues have always found her sense of humour infectious with a serious side when necessary.
She is looking forward to using all of her skills to ensure your first point of contact at Stevens Orchard will be the best it can be.

Amanda has been a volunteer firefighter since 2001.  She has recently become involved supporting and assisting other women firefighters in the role, as well as training new recruits, something very dear to her heart.

Amanda has a daughter, who is the light of her life. In her spare her time Amanda loves exercising her dog, Dash, spending time with her partner, family and friends as well as pottering about in the garden.

amanda@stevensorchard.co.nz

Kylie Roberts- Westport Office

Casual Assistant

Kylie is our ‘Girl Friday’ who comes on board when times require a little bit of extra help. She joined the Westport team in the winter of 2018.
Kylie was born and bred in Westport.  She loves to cook, read and enjoys spending time with friends and family .
She has been breeding and showing Labradors and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers for about 20 years.
Kylie has a 19 yr old son has recently flown the coup.
Kylie is always keen for a challenge and we do our best to assist!

kylie@stevensorchard.co.nz