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Overview

Melissa draws on a decade of in-house experience to advise clients on labor and employment matters.

Melissa came to the practice of law with a broad career background in developmental neuropsychology, commercial real estate paralegal work and community service—giving her insight into a variety of different workplaces. However, her long-term goal had always been the law, and after earning her J.D., she began working in commercial litigation. Melissa then accepted an in-house position with a mutual insurance and financial services company, initially serving as a litigator for insurance and financial services claims and securities-related matters.

Yet Melissa’s role quickly grew beyond insurance work: her responsibilities soon included a variety of labor and employment legal matters, and she was named associate general counsel. Melissa drafted and negotiated employment, restrictive covenant and separation agreements; oversaw internal investigations regarding harassment allegations and other sensitive matters; advised company leadership on employment-related crisis management; designed lawful recruiting and retention policies aimed at increasing diversity; oversaw employment litigation and litigation strategy; managed EEOC and state and local agency charge actions; and addressed routine workplace legal questions. Melissa also regularly developed and delivered training sessions on workplace risks and mitigation techniques, including sexual harassment and harassment prevention, biases, and activating bystanders to create safer workplaces.

Melissa is passionate about working in a practice area where people are at the very center, and she believes that in the labor and employment field, emotional intelligence is just as important as legal knowledge. Understanding the central and deeply personal role work plays in employees’ lives, Melissa is often able to defuse a situation with a proactive, emotionally intelligent response. She also understands how important labor and employment matters are to companies and how much is resting on her advice and on case outcomes.  And, in matters where adversarial measures are needed, Melissa understands clients want options spanning various risk tolerances and recommendations combined with strong representation.     

At Husch Blackwell, Melissa provides preventative counsel to help clients stay in line with the law and avoid potential problems, and she brings her in-house knowledge to every conversation. Her own background in a general counsel’s office means that she readily understands the challenges business executives face and how she can best meet their needs. As a litigator, Melissa’s proactive approach is focused on reaching the best outcome available for her client.  Melissa hopes clients see her as a true thought partner and problem solver, and she aims to serve as a resource connector who brings solutions in response to client needs.


Industry

Services

Recognition

  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers Rising Star, Commercial Litigation, 2011–2012

Education

  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
    • Wisconsin Law Review, Note & Comment Editor
  • B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Admissions

  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
Experience
  • As associate general counsel, advised on critical labor and employment counseling issues for C-suite, Boards of Directors and business leaders on full scope of employee relations matters for workforce located in all 50 states and internationally, including represented segment.
  • Analyzed and provided practical solutions for complex workplace issues relating to high-risk employee performance, discipline, termination and misconduct decisions; pay equity reviews; state and federal disability laws, FMLA, worker's compensation rules, and wage and hour requirements; company policy formulation, review and implementation; reductions in force, position eliminations and WARN Act obligations; and post-employment non-compete, non-disclosure and non-solicitation obligations.
  • Oversaw sensitive internal investigations and addressed delicate issues raised by sexual harassment and other harassment allegations.
  • Developed and oversaw strategies for employment litigation, pre-litigation and settlement.
  • Managed EEOC and state and local agency charge actions; AAA, JAMS and FINRA arbitration; state and federal court appeals and class action litigation in jurisdictions nationwide, as well as international matters.
  • Advised company leadership on employment-related crisis management and reputational risks.
  • Designed holistic DE&I legal strategy.
  • Drafted and negotiated executive employment, restrictive covenant, arbitration, severance, mutual separation, retention and settlement agreements.
  • Partnered with Human Resources to provide legal advice regarding information requests and grievances.
Outside the Office

Melissa jokes that her hobby is keeping up with her children’s social and sports calendars: she has three very active, elementary-aged kids who participate in baseball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, swimming and diving.

She loves spending time with her family and friends, but when she has a moment to herself, Melissa can often be found on the Peloton, jogging or attempting to improve her golf game. She also enjoys playing rec league volleyball with a group of women, some of whom she’s played with since her high school days at Edgewood High in Madison, Wisconsin.

Community Leadership
  • Dane County Circuit Court Small Claims Assistance Program
  • Nakoma Golf Club, Board Member
  • UW Law School’s Economic Justice Institute; Board President, 2017–2021; Board Member, 2015–2017
  • Phantom Lake YMCA Camp

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