Mellissa Lai Partner

Mellissa is a foreign investment and trade lawyer specialising in assisting clients navigate complex rules applicable to their structures and trade flows.

Mellissa has advised on and obtained prior clearance through the FIRB on hundreds of Australian and offshore M&A, real estate and government transactions across defence industry, financial services, technology, renewables and other energy projects.

In addition to advising clients on sanctions, export controls, free trade agreements, procurement and lobbying rules she regularly assists in projects requiring political and stakeholder engagement.



Various clients

Advised on the supply to government of defence technology (including F-35 supply chain and EW systems) and health services (including essential vaccines and mental health services).


Various clients

Provided on-going compliance and reporting assistance, as well as audit and retrospective clearance services and liaison with government relations and other advisers as needed for various clients.

Various clients

Assisted hundreds of clients obtain FIRB approval for Australian and international transactions, including in the financial services, agriculture, defence, energy & resources, funds management, private equity, property, renewables, technology, telecommunications, transport and other sectors.


Various clients

Advised major financial institutions, defence suppliers, agricultural providers, transport providers, businesses in the energy sector and universities on export controls and sanctions, including the 2022 Russia sanctions.

Various clients

Advised defence suppliers and energy sector clients on domestic law impacts of Australia’s free trade agreements, supply arrangements and customs issues. Advised on investment matters to support the UK government’s negotiations with Australia for the UK-Australia free trade agreement.


Career & qualifications


  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Science, Australian National University

Memberships and Associations

  • Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory

Insights Read more insight

Russian sanctions: supervening illegality and impact on contracts with Russian interests

In the first case of its kind in Australia, the Federal Court of Australia held that Rio Tinto-backed Queensland Alumina Ltd was correct in interpreting and applying the sanctions imposed by the...