Melissa Mignogna did not always want to be a lawyer as a child. At the suggestion of one of her college professors, she went to law school at then Widener University, now Delaware Law School. Immediately upon taking a course in family law, she found her niche.
“I connected with family law immediately,” said Melissa. “This is what I wanted to do. This is a path to really helping people with issues that affect their families, and what could really be more important?”
As a law school student, Melissa interned at the Burlington County Superior Court in New Jersey. Immediately following graduation, she accepted a position as a law clerk with the Hon. John L. Call, Jr. in the Family Division of the Burlington County Superior Court. Following her clerkship, “the choice was made.” Since that time, she has focused exclusively on family law.
The clerkship with Judge Call provided the kind of experience Melissa wanted for her chosen career. She learned how cases work their way through the court system and gained invaluable experience and knowledge about the legal industry.
Fifteen years and many cases later, Melissa has seen one steady aspect to family law cases: the people involved are in emotionally-charged situations and they are looking for guidance, support, and advice.
“There are naturally a lot of emotions involved in family law cases,” said Melissa. “And it really should not be any other way.”
With these types of cases, how does Melissa keep the clients on track?
“As my client’s legal advocate, I see firsthand the difficulties facing my clients, and I feel their pain. You have to know when to play hardball and know when to take a softer approach. But I have to come to approach my role in my client’s case in this way: if I can take some of the pressure and stress off my clients by helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel and guiding them to make the best decisions for their lives, I am helping them get to a better place. I am making something easier for them and their children.”
It is her dedication to her clients that has allowed Melissa to be selected to the Super Lawyers list. For 10 years and until she was no longer eligible, she was also selected to Rising Stars.
Eventually, Melissa started working for a law firm where Amy Goldstein was an established partner. Amy and Melissa eventually started a family law department in a larger sized firm and recently decided to partner and form Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A.
Melissa is also a trained mediator in the state of New Jersey. The mediation process allows couples to meet with Melissa together, with or without private attorneys involved, with the goal of resolving their issues with Melissa’s assistance.
“I very much believe that many of the issues in a divorce can and should be resolved through mediation,” said Melissa. “If I think it will be cost-effective for clients to go through the mediation process and has the possibility of helping them work through some of all of their issues, then I recommend it.”
In addition to her work as a lawyer, Melissa is involved in the legal community, having served as a member in the past of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Executive Committee. She is a member and active participant in the Burlington County and Camden County Bar Associations and is also an active member of the Thomas S. Forkin Family Law American Inn of Court, which is an organization dedicated to the improvement of the practice of family law.
As an experienced family law attorney, Melissa is often invited to speak at events for the public, as well as for legal professionals and other professionals. She has been invited to speak on behalf of the State of New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, where she has lectured on domestic violence, alimony, family court motion practice, qualified domestic relations orders, child support, and the divorce process and procedure.
She also works with law students and has for several years served as a judge for the Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition at Drexel University.
Melissa offers legal consultations, free of charge, on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Southern Jersey, where she has also been invited to serve as a speaker on numerous occasions.
Melissa also spends her free time volunteering on committees for CASA for Children of Mercer County and Burlington County and Camden County Boys and Girls Club. CASA is a nationwide organization that trains volunteers to become legal advocates for children separated from their parents in the court system.
Much like firm partner Amy, Melissa has always worked with children and has been involved in volunteer efforts to help the youth for many years.
“I have always been a kid person,” she said. “The rights of children have always been important to me, and that has fueled my career and has had a lot to do with the way I approach my work and my clients.”
Melissa serves clients in Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cumberland County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Salem County.
“This is a career path in law that I am grateful for,” said Melissa. “Focusing my practice on family law has been fulfilling work.”