Michael Benjamin & Associates is a medium sized suburban legal firm that delivers exceptional legal advice and customer care in the practice areas of family law, criminal law, aged care, Elder law and retirement living, commercial and business law, litigation and dispute resolution, migration and citizenship, property and real estate, wills, probate and administration.
With over 30 years’ experience our established team of highly experienced lawyers, led by Principal David Littlejohn, work across many areas of practice and we pride ourselves on our down to earth and approachable team culture.
Meet the Team
David Littlejohn – Principal
I commenced my legal career as an Associate to His Honour Judge Tim Wood QC in 1998, followed by Articles of Clerkship in 1999 / 2000 at Deacons Graham James (now Norton Rose Fulbright). Admitted into practice in March 2000, I practiced as a Member of the Victorian Bar until 2007. Since then, I have been employed as a solicitor at the Victorian Department of Justice, Department of Education & Training and leading Australian law firm, Russell Kennedy Lawyers until 2014. Following this, I commenced a sole practice known as Littlejohn Legal for almost five years. I purchased Michael Benjamin & Associates from its founder, Michael Benjamin in 2019.
As a former barrister, I’m able to diligently advocate for clients in court, and bring a wealth of experience in both public and private sector, in areas such as criminal law, property law, commercial law, litigation, family law among others.
Jeeva Bala – Special Counsel
I commenced my legal career in September 1980 as an Attorney-at-Law in Sri Lanka and November 1994 in Australia, spanning a period of over 40 years. Prior to joining Michael Benjamin & Associates, I worked in a range of different firms and became a sole practitioner in 2015. I worked as a locum solicitor for a number of legal firms over several years.
I joined Michael Benjamin & Associates in 2021 and practice in the areas of deceased estates including testator family maintenance claims, retail leases, retirement village and aged care agreements, sale and purchase of businesses, estate planning, complex wills and testamentary trusts and powers of attorney.
Penelope Stevens – Special Counsel
I joined Michael Benjamin & Associates in 2022, having returned to Melbourne after 22 years practising in Darwin and Brisbane. Over 30 years’ experience in law has equipped me to deliver clear and practical advice to resolve complex situations. I ran my own practice from 2014 to 2021 and this included appointments as Independent Children’s Lawyer in more difficult parenting cases.
I am resilient and tenacious and some would say I am quirky with an interest in musical theatre, popular culture, animals and all things retro. I thoroughly enjoy mentoring and engaging in a good conversation that allows me to share knowledge and learn from others.
I have been an Accredited Specialist in Family Law since 2005 and was contracted for two years as Registrar of Family Court from 2007 to 2009.
Maria Rigoli – Consultant
My legal career commenced in 1991. I joined Michael Benjamin & Associates in April 2023 after a merger and acquisition of my law firm Rigoli Lawyers. I have 32 years’ experience as a lawyer and over 20 years’ experience in business. I have been an Accredited Family Law Specialist since 2013. I won the Law Institute of Victoria Suburban Lawyer of the Year Award in 2016. I was a Finalist in the Regional/Suburban Lawyer of the Year Australian Law Awards 2020. My forte is strategy and business operations.
Jonathan Andrews – Senior Associate
I have over five years’ professional experience as a solicitor in different legal fields, including family, commercial, property and criminal law.
I excel in legal-factual analysis, litigation and court advocacy and take pride in offering my clients the best possible legal advice. I am predominantly experienced in family law and takes an ‘early settlement approach – without compromise’ to adversarial family law matters. To this end, I possess excellent negotiation and mediation skills to maximise any advisable settlement opportunity and avoid unnecessary litigation, without compromising the best interests of my clients. I provide great interpersonal skills to law, enabling me to effectively operate between diverse parties and stakeholders in any given matter.
Presently, I am pursuing a part-time Master of Digital Law at Monash University, to deepen my understanding of the emerging world of blockchain technology along with the challenges and opportunities it presents. I am bilingual in English and German and enjoy playing rhythm guitar to accompany a good singalong.
Chiara Mant – Associate
Dingley born and raised, I was thrilled to join Michael Benjamin & Associates in April 2021 whilst completing my Practical Legal Training. I have completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Human Resources/Bachelor of Laws at Thomas More Law School at ACU as well as a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at Leo Cussen Centre for Law.
I have gained experience in criminal law and general litigation whilst working at Michael Benjamin & Associates. I was admitted as a solicitor in November 2021, I am determined and passionate about helping clients who find themselves in vulnerable positions to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Sarah Younan – Associate
I joined Michael Benjamin and associates in 2023 after the acquisition and merger of Rigoli Lawyers. Whilst, I worked in only family law, I have experience in other areas including wills and estate and property law.
On the weekends, you’ll find me spending time with my family and enjoying coffee dates with friends.
Alex Petrakos – Associate
I have been a practising migration agent for over 10 years, specialising in all manner of Australian visa and citizenship applications and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) hearings. I was admitted to practice in November 2018 and have been exposed to other areas of law including family law, commercial leases and contracts.
Shanie Dowling – Associate
I completed my Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at Monash University in June 2022, joining Michael Benjamin & Associates soon after. Leading up to the completion of my degree I gained experience in family law through two community legal centre placements and a volunteering position. I am excited to be beginning my legal career here at Michael Benjamin & Associates with such a supportive and encouraging team to learn from.
Debbie Cutajar – Legal Practice Manager
I came to Michael Benjamin & Associates in 2013 and have never looked back because of its friendly, team-orientated and supportive environment. I enjoy all aspects of my position as Legal Practice Manager. I have grown and developed my skill set and can assist in most areas of office administration and support.
I always put in 110% and go above and beyond to assist and meet our clients needs and expectations.
Paula Wilson – Trust Account Administrator
I have been working at Michael Benjamin & Associates for over 9 years. My role is as a trust account administrator and accounts clerk.
My interests outside of work include reading, gym classes, movies, and walks (especially along the beach with my dog).