Melissa is a litigation partner with over 20 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’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 (www.constructionlawNC.com) 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.
(Every case is different and depends on its own unique facts. Results may vary.)
Confidential Arbitration. Arbitrator found in favor of plaintiff-contractor (client) in private binding arbitration involving unpaid fees with counterclaim for alleged construction defects totaling over $800,000.
After two week jury trial, awarded complete defense verdict ($0.00 award) in favor of architect-client in construction litigation lawsuit involving allegations of architect’s professional negligence.
Confidential Arbitration. Arbitrator awarded complete defense verdict ($0.0 awarded) in favor of engineer-client after lengthy binding private arbitration.
“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
North Carolina State and Federal Courts
US Court of Appeals – 4th Circuit
Supreme Court of the United States
American Bar Association
North Carolina Bar Association
Construction Law Section - Co-chair, AIA/Design Professionals Liaison Committee
Wake County Bar Association and 10th Judicial District Bar
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 and the Construction Super Conference. Her speech topics have included:
- The Top 10 Amendments to the 2018 version of the AIA A-201 General Conditions
- 7 Critical Mistakes that Engineers & Architects Make During Project Negotiation & Execution that Sabotage their Projects and Invite Litigation
- 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
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
NC list – Construction Litigation 2015-present
Rising Star list 2011-12
Business North Carolina magazine
Construction Law 2013, 2016, 2021
Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
Journal of American Law Editorial Board
Eileen Collins Professional Achievement Award
Corning Community College, New York
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)
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