Melissa is a litigation partner with over 25 years of experience, whose practice is focused on construction law and business disputes. She primarily represents architects and engineers, advising them on contract proposals to limit risks and defending them when litigation does arise.  Melissa is a Panel Member of the American Arbitration Association in Construction Law.

Melissa’s cases have included construction administration and management claims, plan defect claims, testing failure claims and delay claims. Her practice includes the defense of all sizes of claims, from private commercial buildings to large, multi-million dollar public projects. She defends clients in State and Federal courts as well as in binding arbitration.

In addition to construction cases, Melissa handles commercial litigation, business torts, contract negotiation, medical negligence claims, product defect liability, premises liability, title insurance litigation, and director and officer liability.

Since 2009, Melissa has written and edited Construction Law in North Carolina ( which is dedicated exclusively to the design professional community. The blog is critically-acclaimed at the national level, and has been awarded the “Best Construction Blog” prize by Design and Construction Report.

Outside of work, Melissa can be found with her nose buried in a good book or checking out the newest restaurants in the Triangle with her husband and daughter.

Experience Highlights

(Every case is different and depends on its own unique facts. Results may vary.)

Received all damages sought for client after trial involving business partnership dissolution.

Obtained summary judgment for engineer-client on the basis that the identified experts against client were unable to state that client violated any standard of professional conduct.

Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all claims against architect-client, including claims of gross negligence in Superior Court of the basis of the statute of repose and statute of limitations.

“Melissa is an excellent lawyer in every way. She is a keen attorney and an insightful litigator. I recommend her to anyone in need of legal services.”

AV Peer Review

More About Melissa

Education & Admissions

UNC at Chapel Hill School of Law – JD 1998
UNC at Chapel Hill – BA 1994
Honors and highest distinction

North Carolina 1998
US District Courts for Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
US Court of Appeals – 4th Circuit
Supreme Court of the United States

Professional Affiliations

American Arbitration Association

Panel Member in Construction Law

American Bar Association

Litigation and Construction Sections

North Carolina Bar Association

Construction Law Section Council Member 2024; Chair; AIA/Design Professionals Liaison Committee

Wake County Bar Association and 10th Judicial District Bar

Grievance Committee

North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys

Construction Law Section

Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)

Defense Research Institute (DRI)

RL Mace Universal Design Institute

Board of Directors & President 2008-13

Speaking & Publications

Melissa is a well-respected author and presenter in the construction industry. Dozens of her articles relating to legal issues for design professionals, and risk avoidance for construction projects have been published, and she routinely lectures to multiple national, regional, and local construction-related industries on legal matters, including the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC),  the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Construction Defect Claims Managers Association (CDCMA), Claims & Litigation Management (CLM), NC State Bar Association, NC Association of Defense Attorneys and the Construction Super Conference. Her speech topics have included:

  • 7 Critical Mistakes that Engineers & Architects Make During Project Negotiation & Execution that Sabotage their Projects and Invite Litigation
  • The Top 10 Amendments to the 2017 version of the AIA A-201 General Conditions
  • Designing the Project: Insurance for the Design Team
  • A View from Outside Counsel: Mitigating Engineering Risks
  • Keeping Your House in Order: Risk with BIM and LEED projects
  • Construction Contract Drafting Strategies: Scope of Services, Duties of Parties, Project Modifications, and Termination Issues
  • Multi-Party Construction Cases: Joinder of Subcontractors & Design Professionals in Binding Arbitration Agreements
  • Scope of Services Under AIA, EJCDC, and ConsensusDocs Contract Forms

Recent Publication:
Contractor Termination Issues for the Architect/Engineer Construction Law NC Blog, July, 2023

Construction Checklists: A Guide to Frequently Encountered Construction Issues, (2nd Edition), American Bar Association (2022) – Author of the chapter, “Owner-Architects Agreements” and Editor of the chapter, “Pitfalls of the Architect as Contract Association (2020)

ABA Forum Construction for D1 Dispute Resolver blog – Featured Profile, February, 2021

THE Construction Contracts Book (3rd Edition), Editor, “Re-design Costs,” American Bar Association (2020)


North Carolina Jaycees
General Counsel, 2007-08

Chapel Hill Jaycees
2002 Steering Committee Chair to re-charter the chapter

Honors & Awards

AV Preeminent® Peer Rated

Super Lawyers
Top 50 Women in NC 2023, 2024
NC lists in Construction Litigation 2015-present
Rising Star lists 2011-12

Best Lawyers in America
Listed in Construction Law, Construction Litigation and Insurance Litigation 2024

Legal Elite
Business North Carolina magazine
Construction Law 2013, 2016, 2021-23

Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
Journal of American Law Editorial Board


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Eileen Collins Professional Achievement Award
Corning Community College, New York

LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)
Green Associate

Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers

Best Construction Blog award
Design and Construction Report

Top 10 Construction Blogs
JD Supra Reader’s Choice Award 2019

Triangle Impact Law Leader
Business Leader magazine

“40 Under 40” Award 2006
Triangle Business Journal