Melissa is a 1982 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and a 1985 magna cum laude graduate of the Baylor University School of Law. While studying at Baylor Law, she served as Executive Editor of the Baylor Law Review. Following graduation, Melissa practiced as a trial lawyer for two Texas firms, most notably the Vinson and Elkins firm of Dallas, where she litigated complex commercial cases.
Melissa joined the faculty at Baylor Law in 1990 where she served with great distinction, teaching courses primarily in Employment Discrimination Law and Torts Law. She was a popular instructor, scholar, and speaker at Baylor and was awarded the university’s Outstanding Tenured Teacher Award in 2001. The Texas Bar Foundation awarded Melissa the Outstanding Law Journal Article Award in 1997 for a series of articles entitled “Privacy in the Workplace.”
As dean of Campbell Law, Melissa oversaw the school’s relocation to Raleigh from Buies Creek in 2009. Campbell Law flourished under her leadership, significantly increasing its profile across the state and region and attracting an ever-growing number of highly qualified faculty and students, all the while holding true to its tradition of rigorously preparing its students for the practice of law. Melissa is now a full-time member of the Campbell Law faculty and currently teaches Employment Law courses.
Melissa has been appointed by the North Carolina Chief Justice to a three-year term on the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. She also has been appointed to a second term as Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Law School Liaison Committee.
An active member of the Raleigh community, Melissa serves on the Community Advisory Board, Junior League and the Center for Community Leadership; the board of directors of the Triangle/Eastern NC chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and its Development Committee; and the Board of Governors of the Brier Creek Country Club. Melissa serves on the planning committee for the Executive Women’s Luncheon for the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. She has served as Vice President of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association, as well as on the Board of Directors of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and its Government Affairs Committee, the Executive Board of Directors of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Club in Raleigh. Melissa also has served on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Public Service Committee of the Wake County Bar Association.
Melissa’s contributions to North Carolina’s legal profession and to the greater Raleigh community have garnered her numerous awards and recognitions. Melissa has been honored by Lawyers Weekly with a 2012 Woman of Justice Award, and she has also been honored by N.C. Business Leader media for her work and leadership in the Raleigh region, including recognition as a Triangle Area Woman Extraordinaire, Business Impact Leader, and Education Impact Leader. Melissa has received the Women of Achievement Award from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina in recognition of her professional and community work and serving as a role model for future generations.
Other Recognitions and Community Involvement:
- Texas Bar Foundation, Outstanding Law Journal Article Award, 1997
- Baylor University, Outstanding Tenured Teacher Award, 2001
- Business Leader Magazine
- Triangle Area Woman Extraordinaire, 2008
- Business Impact Leader, 2008
- Education Impact Leader, 2008
- Women of Achievement Award from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina, 2011
- Woman of Justice Award 2012, awarded by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly
*Melissa A. Essary is not currently licensed to practice law in North Carolina. Professor Essary is currently licensed to practice law in Texas.