Melissa Ruggiero is currently a Staff Attorney at NLS. She provides legal services for the elder law program and represents clients denied Social Security disability benefits.
Prior to joining NLS in 2020, she worked as Associate Counsel at the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel representing indigent defendants throughout the trial process, from arrest through post-conviction proceedings, including all stages of trial and direct appeal, for summary, misdemeanor, major felony, and homicide cases. She also worked as a Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands and in the War Crimes Chamber at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo providing legal services and advice regarding international law, international criminal law and procedure to the Judges hearing war crimes cases.
Ms. Ruggiero earned her LL.M in Human Rights and Criminal Justice (Cross Border) from Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland, Galway in 2007, dissertation: Establishing the Rule of Law in the Republic of Macedonia after the 2001 Conflict. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law in 2003 and a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, major in History and minor in Political Science (emphasis in Foreign Affairs) from John Carroll University in 1999.
Bar Association Memberships/Admissions
Ms. Ruggiero is admitted to the Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia Bar (inactive). She served as Co-President of the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania from 2018 to 2021.
Co-chair of the South Pittsburgh Opioid Action Coalition (SPOAC) from 2018 to 2020 and team member of the Pittsburgh Banshees, Pittsburgh’s Women’s Gaelic Football team, from 2015 to 2020.