We envision a world where inter-disciplinary collaboration is the norm for legal services. In this world lawyers are peacemakers and problem solvers who together with other professionals create meaningful and positive encounters with the law.

Our mission is to offer an expansive service that is user-focused and values-based drawing on our combined disciplines, skills and expertise.

At Milkwood we value compassion, caring, continuous learning, humour, integrity, listening, trust and wellbeing. Our values guide and influence every aspect of our work. We use our values to help guide us in making our decisions, to choose the right path, the next step, or the choice between multiple options, and to facilitate communications.


Milkwood Law was founded by Rhiannon Thomas in 2012 when she collaborated with a clinical psychologist and family counsellor to offer a more expansive approach to Wills, Antenuptial Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements.

Now called ‘Milkwood’, Rhiannon Thomas still collaborates with other professionals to offer a wider range of services.

Rhiannon has two decades of legal experience. She is an attorney, notary, conveyancer and administrator of deceased estates in practice at Michelle Dommisse & Associates in Cape Town. She is also a values consultant and accredited Conscious Contracts® provider and trainer.

She has developed and facilitated workshops on a wide range of topics. A natural connector and networker, Rhiannon thrives on building relationships.

She found her tribe in the Integrative Law movement. Her vision is to offer the best, most meaningful encounter that a person can have with the law and a lawyer; to work collaboratively with other professionals; to inspire other lawyers to reassess the way in which they practise law and serve their clients; and to take Milkwood’s methods into mainstream legal practice by providing training and workshops.

She works internationally and is based in Cape Town.

To hear about Rhiannon’s path to Integrative Law click here

Also discover with us: What is Integrative Law?, Who are Integrative Lawyers? and discover the Shared Values of Integrative Lawyers.


Dianne Burger

Di is a Family Counsellor, with a background in the medical health sciences. Her current field of expertise is in adult and paediatric palliative care, and bereavement support. She is a member of the Paedspal Psychosocial Team in Cape Town where she offers counselling to individuals, couples and family groups, depending on the need. She believes in holistic practice, taking into account the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of clients.

Di is registered with the Council for Counsellors in South Africa.

Gill Faris MPhil (Adult Education)

Gill is an adult education specialist with extensive experience in the design, implementation and facilitation of training programmes embedded in the principles of adult learning and teaching. This experience has helped shape her unique and innovative training methodology where she offers transformative tailor-made workshops in the public and private sectors. Her first career was in counselling and mentoring in a psychosocial oncology environment. She continues to develop psychoeducation materials for use in public health. Gill is on a lifelong journey of learning, and wants you to join her!

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Lorna Olckers PhD

Dr Lorna Olckers is a registered social worker in private practice, who has extensive experience in the non-profit sector and in academia. Her areas of interest include personal and professional development, mental health, interpersonal skills, reflective practice, and human rights. Lorna assists individuals, couples, and groups with navigating life’s major events within a safe, non-judgemental space. She uses an integrated, client-centred approach including short-term counselling, longer-term therapy, and trauma debriefing.  She also offers facilitated training courses designed around client-specific needs. Lorna collaborates with Milkwood to assist couples with creating meaningful relationship agreements that reflect the values and dreams for their future together.

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We have used the Milkwood tree (Sideroxylon inerme) as our inspiration because it is symbolic of many of the values that have led us to offer these services. Trees are symbols of life and renewal. They appear to be distinctly defined, but in fact they form part of an intricate forest floor which stretches across time and space. We are part of that forest floor.

Throughout human history, trees have been powerful symbols. There is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Many mythological stories make reference to trees. The history of our families and past generations is captured by creating a family tree with its many branches reaching back in time. Not only do trees appear in many stories but they tell their own stories. Their stories are told by the rings in their wood. These rings let us see into the tree’s past showing us times of rainfall, drought, fire, of plenty and of struggle. Just like a tree we carry with us the stories that have shaped and given meaning to our lives.

At Milkwood we create a space for those stories to inform the important legal contracts in a person’s life, such as those for their relationships, marriage or what happens after they die.

The Milkwood tree is an evergreen tree that lives for hundreds of years. Many were here long before us and many will be here long after we have gone – a tree for past and future generations. The white Milkwood is indigenous to the coast of South Africa, especially the Cape and forms an ancient part of South Africa’s natural history.

The southern-most indigenous forest in Africa is home to a Milkwood tree that is estimated to be over 1000 years old. Cape Town has its own famous Milkwood at Woodstock known as the Treaty Tree, which is estimated to be over 500 years old. Milkwoods form part of a protective canopy which provides shelter from the elements. We see our legal solutions as potentially providing similar protection to some of your most important relationships.

The Milkwood is rarely found with a straight trunk; rather, it tends to be gnarled and sprawling – like our own stories. These stories are often lost, especially when we die. Creating a values-based Will with the possible addition of legacy work can preserve your stories for future generations, adding substance to the branches of your family tree.

The Milkwood tree is sometimes called the tree of wholeness, which is the aim of integrative legal practice. Our goal is to co-create legal solutions with integrity. The nurturing and supportive energy of the Milkwood tree mirrors the way in which we have created our processes. Using our integrative approach, we turn what is often a hollow and formalistic experience into something meaningful and positive.



Milkwood is not alone in its vision to transform legal services. We are part of a growing international community of legal changemakers. Together we aim to bring about global systemic change to the legal systems around the world. Click on the logos to find out more about other like-minded initiatives.