Seattle University School of Law (JD, cum laude) (2006)
University of Denver (BA, cum laude) (2001)
Arizona (2010) (inactive)
New Mexico (2006) (inactive)
Colorado Super Lawyers, 2020-2022
Colorado Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2016 and 2018
Best Lawyers of America, 2020-2023
National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, 2017
Colorado Bar Association
Arizona Bar Association
New Mexico Bar Association
Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
Colorado Women’s Bar Association
Colorado Women’s Trial Lawyers Network
Melissa is a founding partner of Hailey | Hart. She is a respected trial and appellate attorney committed to pursuing justice on behalf of her clients while promoting integrity in the legal profession.
Melissa is regularly recognized by her peers as a leading plaintiff’s attorney. She was named as a Colorado Super Lawyer in 2020, 2021, and 2022, as a Colorado Super Lawyer Rising Star in 2016 and 2018, among the Top 40 Under 40 of the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017, and is included in the 2020-2023 lists of Best Lawyers in America.
Melissa routinely appears in state and federal appellate courts, and has litigated in the Tenth, Ninth, Fifth, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Recent highlights of her appellate work include wins at both the Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado Supreme Court in the case of Boustred v. Align, which set the new standard for determining specific personal jurisdiction in product liability litigation.
Melissa is an active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers’ Association (CTLA), the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, and the Colorado Women’s Trial Lawyer Network. She serves on the CTLA Board of Directors and is part of CTLA’s bad faith and amicus committees. Since 2018, Melissa has served as a mentor to new attorneys through the State of New Mexico’s Bridge the Gap program.
Melissa is a two-time contributing author to Trial Talk magazine and has co-authored three books: Hanlon-Leh et al., Discovery in Colorado (Colorado CLE, 2021); Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C., Colorado Pretrial Civil Litigation (LexisNexis Practice Guide, 2019); and Reading et al., Awakening Spirits: Wolves in the Southern Rockies (Fulcrum Press, 2010). Melissa has been a guest lecturer at the University of New Mexico’s School of Law, presented to the U.S. Counsel on Environmental Quality, and regularly speaks at Colorado CLE seminars. Recent seminar topics include: summary judgment briefing; tips for successful mediation; developing effective pre-litigation settlement packages; maximizing recovery against landowners; holding out-of-state defendants accountable for defective products; and recent changes in insurance laws.
Before moving to private practice in 2010, Melissa was a public interest environmental litigator. Since then, she has served as President of the Board for the Southern Plains Land Trust and as Vice President of the Board for WildEarth Guardians. She currently serves as pro bono legal counsel for High Country News.