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Melissa Lehane Rawlinson

Special Counsel
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Litigation need not be an adversarial or challenging process. I endeavor—through careful listening and thoughtful dialogue—to help clients find resolutions that serve their entities in a positive way consistent with their core values and allow them to get back to the day-to-day tasks that are their mission and focus. Quotation mark
Melissa Lehane Rawlinson
Melissa Lehane Rawlinson

About Melissa

Melissa Rawlinson is an attorney on Miller Nash’s education team, focusing on litigation and representing higher education institutions (community colleges, colleges, and universities), K-12 institutions, public school districts, and private schools in state and federal court. She works with the firm’s education clients on a range of matters that affect their students, administrators, educators, and employees. Melissa defends education clients in disputes involving race, gender, and age discrimination, disability discrimination and accommodation issues, wage and hour claims, wrongful discharge, retaliation, as well as general tort and contract claims.

Melissa joined Miller Nash first as a summer clerk, then as a litigation associate where she participated in trials, arbitrations, and mediations related to complex business and employment matters. She took an extended leave of absence from the firm to focus on raising her three daughters. During her leave, she volunteered and served in multiple leadership roles with educational institutions and youth and student activity groups, gaining valuable experience that now guides and informs her practice serving educational clients. Miller Nash welcomed Melissa back to the firm in 2021 as special counsel on its employment and education teams.

Representative Experience

  • Student Matters Plus
    • Prevailed on motion for summary judgment filed before discovery was commenced on contract and tort claims brought by a former graduate student against a private university.

    • Successfully resolved claims against school district related to negligence and Title IX before case was filed.

    • Favorably resolved age discrimination claim brought by former dean against a community college.

    • Negotiated and favorably resolved discrimination and retaliation claims on behalf of private religious university.

    • Favorably resolved former employee’s claims against public university that alleged discrimination based on race and gender as well as violations of the Oregon Equal Pay Act.

    • Successfully defended community college against multiple petitions filed with the district attorney’s office related to public records requests.

    • Prevailed on a motion to quash and dismiss a writ of review on behalf of a public school district.



  • J.D., University of California Law, San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings), 1996
  • B.S., Santa Clara University, summa cum laude, political science, 1993
    • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Saint Rose Academy, San Francisco, California

Bar Admissions

  • Oregon, 1996


Professional Plus
  • Multnomah Bar Association, Member
  • Oregon State Bar, Member
  • American Bar Association
    • Litigation Section, Member
Civic Plus
  • Coos Bay Oregon Law Center/Central Oregon Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO), Miller Nash Expungement Clinic Pro Bono Volunteer
  • National Charity League, Portland Chapter
    • President, 2023-present
    • Board of Directors, 2016-2019, 2020-2023
  • Catholic Youth Organization, St. Mary’s Cathedral Club, Board of Directors, 2010-2012, 2018-2020
  • Cathedral School Advisory Council, 2014-2017
  • Youngset Cooperative Preschool
    • President, 2008-2010
    • Board of Directors, 2007-2010, 2013-2014

Insights from Melissa

  • “Who Wants to Be Legally Astute—Federal and State Legal Updates,” Miller Nash, Employment Law Seminar (Oct. 2023)
  • “Strategic Risk Management: Keeping the Trains Running on Time,” Miller Nash, Employment Law Seminar (Oct. 2022)

Outside the Office

Outside of the office, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and three daughters, bringing people together over a home-cooked meal, finding new morning sunrise walks, and reading a good book.

  Edit Melissa Lehane Rawlinson