Melissa Wolf Riley Counsel

Melissa has a broad practice encompassing employment law, education law, non-profit law, and general civil litigation. She often handles complex matters that do not fit neatly into a particular practice area.

In the area of employment law, Melissa regularly advises employers regarding employment practices and policymaking, and is experienced in handling and conducting EEO investigations and administrative claims. She defends employers in litigation matters, to include non-competition, discrimination and wrongful discharge claims.  She often advises employers regarding complex medical situations that involve issues of workers compensation, ADA, and FMLA.  She provides client trainings on a variety of employment-related topics.  Although she represents a wide variety of clients, both large and small, Melissa is particularly experienced with employment issues arising in the education, healthcare and non-profit industries.

In the education law arena, Melissa provides advice and counsel to both public and private K-12 school systems, as well as institutions of higher education on a variety of issues, including Title IX, OCR compliance complaints, school board policy and procedure, Standards of Learning (SOL), ADA, Section 504, FERPA, sexual misconduct, student discipline, tenure, policymaking, and employment matters.  She defends colleges and universities in litigation, including Title IX claims, employment-related claims, and student disciplinary matters, and serves as an appeal officer in Title IX matters.  Melissa is part of a team of McGuireWoods attorneys that teach a Higher Education Practicum at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Her other civil litigation experience includes complex commercial and contract litigation, trust and estate litigation, and tort and personal injury litigation. She has practiced extensively in state and federal courts throughout Virginia.

Melissa enjoys working with non-profit organizations regarding employment/volunteer issues as well as governance matters.  An animal lover, Melissa also has an active animal law practice, in which she assists individuals, animal welfare groups, and commercial entities in a wide variety of areas, including litigation, governance, and risk management issues.

Melissa is committed to giving back to the community and regularly participates in pro bono representations.

"Good client service depends upon recognizing what makes each client unique."


Conducted broad-reaching internal investigation for client related to allegations of systemic discrimination.

Resolved disputes regarding the breakup of a medical practice through mediation.

Won summary judgment for employer in case alleging disability discrimination.

Defended real estate appraisal malpractice action resulting in successful motion to strike and summary judgment at conclusion of trial.

Secured defense verdict in a commercial contract and fraud action.

  • University of Richmond School of Law, JD, cum laude, Notes & Comments Editor, Richmond Law Review, 1998
  • Washington and Lee University, BA, 1995

Board of Directors, Sexual Assault Resource Agency, 2012-2014

Institutional Review Board, Martha Jefferson Hospital, 2003-present 

Board of Directors, Caring for Creatures, 2004-2007

  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Recipient, Excellence in Labor & Employment Law, ABA/BNA Award

Named to "Virginia Rising Stars," Employment and Labor, General Litigation, Schools and Education, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2010, 2012-2014

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