Attorney Melody Rissell Leonard witnessed discrimination and harassment in the workplace prior to attending law school. Unfortunately, she also experienced sexual harassment while working in the restaurant industry during her undergraduate studies. It was extremely frustrating—both to experience it—and to witness it. However, it gave her a newfound motivation to attend law school and help others with similar issues. Her personal experience with these issues gives her a unique ability to empathize with her clients.
She is aware that most Americans rely on their jobs and careers to feed their families. Many Americans also take great pride in their work, and it can be a large part of a person’s identity. These are a few reasons why Melody believes workplace law is an important practice area. Rissell Law provides complimentary consultations to prospective clients. The Rissell Law Firm also takes cases on a contingency fee basis (where clients are not billed by the hour) whenever it is able to, as we understand that many individuals who have just lost their jobs are unable to make hourly payments for legal fees.
Attorney Melody has experience in both litigation and pre-litigation matters. She is a tireless advocate for her clients—but also understands when a more collaborative approach is required or desired by the parties. Melody is a passionate advocate that always has her clients’ best interests in mind.
After her first year of law school, Melody interned in Federal Court for both the Honorable Judge Andrew P. Gordon and Honorable Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey in The United States District Court, District of Nevada. Melody decided to do a federal internship because that is where most Nevada employment lawsuits end up. This is due to the fact that Nevada has very few state laws that allow employees to bring a private right of action (or lawsuit) against their employer. Most cases in Nevada are based on Federal Laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which puts these cases into Federal Court. Whereas in California, most employment and labor cases are litigated in state court under state laws. Melody gained invaluable experience in that summer clerkship.
For the remainder of law school, Attorney Melody worked for a well-respected firm handling personal injury, plaintiff-side employment, and business litigation matters. Post law school, Melody served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Judge Susan H. Johnson in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada. She gained invaluable experience and insight into the judicial process during her clerkship. Melody researched various legal issues which helped the Judge render decisions. Following her clerkship, she worked for a small law firm in Las Vegas, Nevada representing both employers and employees in employment-related litigation, general civil litigation, and represented claimants in personal injury matters.
Attorney Melody earned her law degree from The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from San Diego State University where she graduated cum laude.
Melody is passionate about pro bono work and giving back to the community. While in law school, Melody was the Vice President of Fundraising for The Public Interest Law Association. In that leadership role, Melody helped raise charitable contributions for the annual auction to fund grants awarded to law students working in the public interest sector. Attorney Melody also gained practical legal experience in law school when she was a student attorney in the Ed Bernstein Immigration Clinic at Boyd. She represented a client seeking asylum in the US after fleeing gang violence in Guatemala.
In her spare time, Melody volunteers for Legal Aid at Work, mentoring and coaching the law students that assist the non-profit’s clients. Attorney Melody is also a member of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel and donates her time pro bono to assist individuals living with HIV and/or AIDS. Melody is an active member of California Employment Lawyers Association, Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, and Orange County Women Lawyers Association.