Melissa works with employers to design, draft, implement and maintain qualified retirement plans that benefit both the employer and the employees. She advises on best practices and provides counsel when issues arise, whether in the context of an employer’s operations, in connection with a merger or acquisition, or as the result of an investigation or audit by the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or otherwise. She also assists with fiduciary compliance and education under ERISA, internal plan audits, and with the voluntary correction programs offered by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor. 

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Melissa has considerable experience assisting clients in the design, implementation and administration of executive compensation and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including employment agreements, equity compensation plans, SERPs, severance agreements, and compliance with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. She often advises on the treatment of such plans in the context of mergers, acquisitions and corporate reorganizations. 

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Melissa provides counsel and support in the implementation of various welfare plans, including health, life, accident, disability, cafeteria and flexible benefit plans, and compliance with ERISA, the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, HIPAA, and other federal and state laws. 

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Selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2018-2019)

AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

Founding member, Cardinal Chapter, National Charity League; Board member (2004-2013); President (2009-2011)

Member, American Bar Association, Tax Section

Member, North Carolina Bar Association, Tax Section 

Member, Triangle Benefits Forum; Membership Vice President (2008-2009)

Member, Raleigh Professional Women's Forum

Presenter, Business North Carolina Cybersecurity Roundtable, Raleigh, NC, November 2018. 

Presenter, "A Wrench in the Gears: How to Prevent a Data Breach from Disrupting Your Operations & Customer Relationships," mfgCON 2018, Durham, NC, November 14, 2018. 

Presenter, "Data Breaches & Cybersecurity," 2018 CFO/CPA Risk Management Conference, Greensboro, NC, October 16, 2018

Presenter, "Data Privacy - A Legal Assessment," CFO Roundtable event, High Point, NC, August 16, 2018

Co-presenter, "You've Been Breached: What Next?," Business North Carolina CEO Summit, Pinehurst, NC, March 27, 2018

Panelist on cybersecurity concerns for entrepreneurs, Greater Women's Business Council's POP Too! Conference, Raleigh, NC, March 9, 2017

Co-presenter (with Thomas Varnum), "Digital Marketing Blues," Raleigh Social Media Marketing Meetup, Raleigh, NC, January 18, 2017

Co-presenter (with Thomas Varnum), "Digital Marketing Blues," Internet Summit, Raleigh, NC, November 16, 2016

Presenter, “Digital Media and Marketing,” UNC Festival of Legal Learning, February 14, 2015

Presenter, “Responding to a Data Breach,” Banking Security Summit, North Carolina Bankers Association, October 16, 2014

Presenter, Digital Legal & Compliance 101 Panel Discussion, North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, June 24, 2014

Presenter, “Tax Consequences of Lobbying and Political Advocacy,” North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, May 2014

Panelist, Representing Your Local Broadcaster, ABA Forum on Communications Law, April 2014

Co-author, “Commercial Free TV and Aereo:  What Lies Ahead for Content Owners in the Wake of the Ninth Circuit’s AutoHop Decision,” Communications Lawyer, November 2013

Co-author, “Prior Restraint 2.0: A Framework for Applying Section 230 to Online Journalism,” 1 Wake Forest J.L.& Pol'y 75, May 2011

Co-author, “Supreme Court Rocks Campaign Finance Boat,” Triad Business Journal, 2010

Moderator, “Recent Developments in Election Law,” North Carolina Professional Lobbyists Association, October 2013

Panelist, “Copyright and the Internet: Giving Broadcasters the Cold Shoulder?” American Bar Association, Representing Your Local Broadcaster, April 2013

Presenter, “Citizens United and Corporate Political Speech: New Opportunities and Obstacles,” North Carolina Professional Lobbyists Association, October 2010

Presenter, “Indemnification, Attorneys’ Fees and Arbitration Provisions in Contracts,” North Carolina Bar Association, Business Law Section Annual Meeting, February 2010

They say you can't go home again. Well, I disagree. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that you can’t leave home. Where we come from shapes and defines us. That has certainly been my experience in my legal career. After joining Brooks Pierce following graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law and practicing there for almost 14 years, I left "home" and moved with my husband, three children, and three golden retrievers to Raleigh, to work in-house with one of the firm's good clients. Another 13 or 14 years flew by, during which time I raised my kids, volunteered extensively in my community, travelled as often as I could to my beloved Outer Banks, and broadened my viewpoint by working in a large national firm, in a boutique firm with a focus on start-ups, and on my own. I took something different from each of those experiences, but I always carried with me the values and the manner of practicing law that I learned at Brooks Pierce. I happily returned to the firm in 2011, ready to apply the experiences of the last 25 years to my employee benefits practice. I am delighted to say that while there is no shortage of new faces at the firm and new clients to serve, many staff members, attorneys and clients I knew and practiced with years ago are still associated with the firm. I think that is the greatest testament to what makes Brooks Pierce special, both for its clients and for those who work here. We are in it for the long haul. We build relationships. We know each other's families...not just children, but often parents, too. We care about each other, about our clients, about our clients' businesses. I have in fact come home.

My job is to help my clients attract and retain their most valuable asset: their people.  

Recent Publications & Media

Speaking Engagements

August 24, 2018

Charles Marshall Speaks on Data Privacy At CFO Roundtable

Brooks Pierce partner Charles Marshall spoke at the quarterly CFO Roundtable sponsored by Parker & Lynch, DMJ Accounting and Scott Insurance in High Point on Aug. 16. In his presentation, entitled “Data Privacy—A Legal Assessment,” Marshall discussed the importance of collaboration between a...Read more


The 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America © recognized 55 Brooks Pierce attorneys as industry...(read more)
The 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America © recognized 54 Brooks Pierce attorneys as industry...(read more)

Recent Publications & Media