Melissa was born and raised in a small town in North Central Illinois. After graduating college at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, and while attending law school, Melissa worked as a part time employee at the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department and as a legal advocate for the local domestic violence sexual assault shelter, Freedom House. She received an appointment from the Illinois Supreme Court and volunteered license to practice law while in law school prosecuting traffics and misdemeanor cases to gain experience in the courtroom.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University College of Law in DeKalb, Illinois, she joined the Wimbiscus Law Firm in Spring Valley, Illinois. She has been engaged in the general practiced of law for more than twenty years. Her representation of clients encompassed every possible facet of law: banking, hospitals, corporate, not for profit, tax, divorce, child support, probate/estate, trust, real estate, probate, civil rights, patent infringement, criminal and municipal law. She argued a precedent setting probate case before the Illinois Supreme Court.
While at Wimbiscus Law Firm, Melissa represented units of local government, including sheriffs, counties, cities, villages, school districts, zoning boards and townships. She has drafted municipal legislation and has represented units of local government in trial, appellate and federal courts.
She prosecuted hundreds of municipal ordinance violations for the towns she represented. The late William J. Wimbiscus, Jr., began practicing municipal law in 1950 and she learned from his vast experience in her municipal practice. As a tenacious municipal prosecutor, Melissa utilized a local ordinance against Exxon, CBS and Viacom for a Superfund site for one of her municipal clients. In that case, she set national precedent before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on whether a non home rule unit of local government could exercise its nuisance powers during the course of a Superfund cleanup. Following this case, she represented the Village of Roxana, Illinois, against Shell and Conoco Phillips using her DePue precedent and fined the polluters for every lot, street and alley which contained benzene from the refinery. Both cases settled.
Now, Melissa maintains her own practice in Illinois, with offices in Chicago and downstate, Illinois. She represents communities nationally, helping them seek redress for public nuisance, suing her vast experience as a municipal trial lawyer. She now advises and represents municipalities and counties to seek redress against pharmaceutical corporations in the opioid crisis with Sanders, Phillips, Grossman, LLC.
She has served for ten years on the board of directors of Freedom House, also having been its President. She volunteers for local not for profits, and religious organizations. She also serves as a director on the board of a local bank.