Donna Melby is one of the nation’s premier business trial attorneys. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Society of Barristers, the Litigation Counsel of America and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, she has successfully tried multiple cases to jury verdict in state and federal courts across the country, international and domestic arbitrations, and court trials across a broad range of complex civil and employment-related cases. Her practice includes class and individual actions, employee mobility, whistleblower, race discrimination and all discrimination matters, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, contract, conspiracy, Equal Pay Act and complex business litigation of all types.
Listed annually in Best Lawyers in America and every year since 2002 by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal as one of the “Top Women Lawyers in California,” Donna excels at “bet the company” litigation. She is regularly included in the “Top 100 Lawyers in California” and “Top Labor and Employment Lawyers” in California by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal. The National Law Journal featured Donna as one of the “Most Influential Lawyers in the United States”; Lawdragon included her among its list of “500 Leading Lawyers in America.”
A member of Paul Hastings Employment Law and Litigation Departments, her nationwide trial and litigation practice reflects a pattern of significant, repeated client victories, year after year, in the federal and state courts across the United States. As lead trial counsel, she has served in the defense of 23 nationwide cases in seven different federal judicial districts, opposite no less than 10 law firms in seven different states; these cases involved claims of race discrimination, hostile work environment, conspiracy, contract and other claims. Her clients have overwhelmingly prevailed on summary judgments, and were awarded fees and sanctions, including on anti-SLAPP motions. These victories followed on the heels of wins on motions to dismiss, on motions to sever and on motions to transfer venue, which effectively split 23 misjoined cases into 23 individual cases; many of these were transferred to district courts across the United States. In many of these cases, Donna’s clients also received dismissals with prejudice—virtual walkaways after years of litigation---without monetary payments.
Donna counts CEOs, general counsels, law firms, Fortune 50 corporations and boards of directors and executives among her clients. The depth and breadth of her trial and counseling experience, including her notable success in expeditiously and creatively solving the most difficult problems companies face—often preventing full-blown litigation—, make her uniquely suited to step into problem cases, frequently on the eve of trial. Her caseload includes “me too”-threatened litigation involving CEOs, general counsels, executives and law firm partners. Donna is a regular and trusted advisor to boards of directors and senior executive leaders on leadership, organizational change and “bet the company” problems.
For 10 years Donna served as co-chair of the Paul Hastings Employment Law practice in Los Angeles, as chair of the firm’s Women’s Initiative and as chair of Global Diversity. Paul Hastings’ Employment Law practice has been named Labor & Employment Litigation Firm of the Year by The American Lawyer.
Ms. Melby recently completed a three-year term as a member of the California Judicial Council, the policy-making body of the California Judiciary, the largest in the United States. She served as the only lawyer on the California Judicial Council’s Executive and Planning Committee, Litigation Management Committee, PCLC and other committees. Immediately prior to service on the California Judicial Council, Donna served as a member of the board of directors of the National Center for State Courts for six years, followed by three years as co-chair of the National Lawyers Committee for the National Center.
Donna is the sole California lawyer to serve by appointment of the conference of chief justices on the Civil Justice Initiative Project (CJI), a national initiative focused on improving the delivery of justice in the civil courts across the United States. The CJI authored “A Call to Action,” a white paper approved by the Conference of Chief Justices in 2016.
In addition to her early invitation to fellowship with the nation’s premier trial lawyer organizations, which limits membership to the top 1% to 5% of trial lawyers, Donna is former national president, national vice president and national president-elect of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the first woman elected to serve. She is a past trustee of the ABOTA Foundation and the first female president, vice president, and president-elect of the Los Angeles Chapter of ABOTA.
Donna is the recipient of the Warren Burger Award, the highest honor bestowed by the National Center for State Courts in recognition of individuals who have volunteered their time, talent and support to the improvement of the administration of justice in the state courts of the United States through extraordinary contributions of service and support to the National Center for State Courts. In 2018 Paul Hastings honored Donna with the Leonard Janofsky award for legal excellence in employment law.
Ms. Melby is a frequent speaker on trial practice—commercial and employment—, litigation, employment law, the civil justice system, the courts and judicial independence at judicial conferences and at bar associations across the United States.
Paul Hastings Extensive Practice Strength Highlighted in The Legal 500 United States 2013
June 05, 2013
Best Lawyers Names 91 Lawyers to 2011 Edition of Rankings
August 16, 2010
Paul Hastings Selected as The American Lawyers Labor & Employment Litigation Firm of the Year
January 06, 2010
Paul Hastings Attorneys Recognized as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars in Northern California, Southern California, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2008
Paul Hastings Attorneys Named Top Women Litigators by Daily Journal
May 22, 2007
Paul Hastings Attorneys Recognized as Super Lawyers in Southern California, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
May 20, 2007
Seven Paul Hastings Attorneys Recognized as America’s Leading Lawyers by Lawdragon
August 29, 2006
Paul Hastings' Nancy Abell and Donna Melby Named Top Women Litigators by the Daily Journal
June 02, 2006
Paul Hastings Adds High-Profile Trial Lawyer to Los Angeles Employment Law Department
June 02, 2006
Daily Journal's Top Labor & Employment Lawyers
Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Paul Cane, and Donna Melby were recognized by The Daily Journal in their annual series celebrating the “Top Labor & Employment Lawyers” in California.
July 19, 2017
Daily Journal Top Women Lawyers
Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Holly House, and Donna Melby were recognized by the Daily Journal in its Top Women Lawyers 2016 list, which recognized 100 leading women attorneys in California.
April 21, 2016
Paul Hastings Receives Most Individual Rankings in Daily Journal’s 2015 Top Labor and Employment Lawyers
Nancy Abell, Leslie Abbott, Elena Baca, Paul Cane, Stephen Harris, Donna Melby, and
Jeffrey Wohl were recognized by the Daily Journal in its Top Labor and Employment list for 2015, which honored California’s top labor and employment lawyers. Paul Hastings received more individual rankings than any other firm.
June 03, 2015
Daily Journal Recognizes Top Women Lawyers
Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Holly House, and
Donna Melby were recognized by the Daily Journal in its Top Women
Lawyers 2015 list, which recognized 100 leading women attorneys in California.
Daily Journal's 2014 Top Women Lawyers
Abbott, Elena Baca, Holly House, and Donna Melby were recognized by the Daily Journal in its 2014 Top Women Lawyers list.
May 07, 2014
Law360 Awards - Top Practice Groups of the Year
Paul Hastings' Employment Law practice was recognized as one of Law360s "Top Practice Groups of The Year."
January 02, 2013
The Daily Journal, Top Women Lawyers
Partners Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Holly House, Donna Melby, and Teri OBrien were named to The Daily Journal's Top Women Lawyers list for 2012.
May 09, 2012
Daily Journal Top Labor & Employment Lawyers 2011
Six Paul Hastings lawyers were named to the Daily Journals annual list of Top Labor & Employment lawyers: George Abele, Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Paul Cane, Donna Melby, and Kirby Wilcox. Of the 250 lawyers from various firms considered, 75 were selected for this distinction, which focuses on litigators and corporate and regulatory specialists on both the plaintiff and defense side of major labor and employment issues.
July 13, 2011
The Daily Journal
Los Angeles partners Nancy Abell, Elena Baca and Donna Melby were recognized by The Daily Journal as Top Women Lawyers of 2011 in California.
May 11, 2011
The Daily Journal
The Daily Journal named Nancy Abell, Elena Baca, Paul Cane, Jr., Donna Melby and Kirby Wilcox to their 2010 list of Top Employment Lawyers. Paul Hastings secured the most lawyers on the Top Employment Lawyers list than any other firm.
July 14, 2010
Nancy Abell and Donna Melby have been selected as two of 2010's Top Women Litigators by the Daily Journal.
May 12, 2010
Donna Melby listed among The National Law Journal's 50...
Donna Melby listed among The National Law Journal's "50 Most Influential Women in America" list, which recognizes attorneys who have had a national impact in their legal field and beyond during the last five years.
Paul Hastings' Donna Melby and Nancy Abell Named Top Women Litigators by ...
Paul Hastings' Donna Melby and Nancy Abell Named Top Women Litigators by the Daily Journal (2006)
January 06, 2006