Melissa is a member of the firm's board and co-leads the Construction Counseling & Dispute Resolution Practice Group. She focuses her practice on complex construction claims and insurance coverage disputes.

Melissa has substantial experience in construction defect litigation, having handled claims involving delay, design, defective products, mold, EIFS and Chinese drywall throughout the United States. She also has substantial experience in complex insurance coverage litigation, especially in claims involving builder’s risk, CGL, subcontractor default, professional, pollution, commercial property, business interruption and other policies. Melissa routinely represents clients in contract negotiations and on matters concerning insurance and risk management issues that arise outside of litigation.

Professional Highlights

  • Member of Pillsbury’s Managing Board; previously served as chair of the Litigation practice in the firm’s Washington, DC, office.
  • Member of Pillsbury’s Board Committee for the Advancement of Diverse Attorneys
  • Member of the Insurance Recovery & Advisory practice, named by Law360 as a Practice Group of the Year in 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2020.

Honors & Awards

  • “Law Firm of the Year” distinction from U.S. News & World Report
  • Chambers USA, Construction Law in Washington, DC (2019 – 2021)
  • The Legal 500 U.S., Construction (2015 – 2020)

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  • Honors & Awards (continued)
    • Recognized by Best Lawyers (published by BL Rankings LLC), Litigation – Construction (2020 – 2023), Construction Law (2023)
    • Named Acritas Star for Outstanding Client Service, 2021
    • Super Lawyers (2014 – 2020)
    • Law360 Practice Group of the Year for Insurance Recovery & Advisory (2010, 2015, 2016, 2020)
    • “Construction Law Firm of the Year” distinction from U.S. News & World Report 2016
    • Chambers USA, Excellence in Construction (2008, 2010, 2019)
  • Associations
    • Fellow, The American College of Construction Lawyers
    • Member, Trial Law Institute
    • Bar Association of the District of Columbia
    • American Bar Association, Co-chair, Insurance Section Subcommittee on Construction
    • American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law
    • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America
    • Washington Building Congress
  • Representative Speaking Engagements
    • “Spring Roundtable Women’s Event,” Washington Building Congress, 2018.
    • “Commercial General Liability Insurance,” ABA Forum on Construction Law, 2017.
    • “Addressing Critical Coverage Issues before, during and after Mediation: Putting the Horse before the Cart,” ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, 2017.
    • “Help! What Risks Can Be Insured?,” ABA Forum on Construction. Annual Meeting, 2016.
    • “Highlights of 2014 and Priorities of 2015,” AGC 2015 Conference on Surety Bonding and Construction Risk Management.
    • “Negotiating Beneficial SDI Terms,” Willis/Pillsbury 2015 Default Insurance Forum.
    • “Builders Risk and CGL Insurance for Construction Projects: Mitigating Developer and Contractor Risks,” webinar, Stafford Publications 2014.
    • “Default Insurance Forum, Legal Issues with Subcontractor Default Insurance,” Willis/Pillsbury, 2013.
    • “Builder’s Risk Insurance for Construction Projects: Evaluating Scope of Coverage Policy Exclusions, and Coverage Extensions and Sub-limits,” webinar, Stafford Publications, 2012.
    • “Xia Xia—Thanks for Using Our Drywall … and Our Toxic Toys,” Litigation Annual Conference, ABA 2012.


  • J.D., The College of William and Mary School of Law, 1993
    Recipient of the Goodwin Scholarship and the R. Doll Scholarship

    A.B., Duke University, 1990
    cum laude


  • District of Columbia



  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

    U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

    U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland