January 2017 Alumni Highlight

Melissa Kucinski Melissa Kucinski ('06) knew that she wanted to practice international family law since college. "Long before I began law school, I had decided that I wanted to practice in an area of law where I could have daily interactions with people with different backgrounds and needs. From there, I pursued that end goal in every way I could." Prior to attending Pace, Melissa received her Bachelors Degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Rochester. She then went on to receive her Masters from American University's School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Melissa chose law school after she realized that her masters degree alone would not allow her to pursue a career path that was as dynamic as which she wished.

At Pace, which Melissa chose primarily due to location, she did well in the required courses. Naturally, she was particularly interested in the family law course and the matrimonial law course. Her favorite course, although, was Conflicts of Laws with Professor Don Doerberg. She also had the opportunity to draft a paper on New York’s recognition of same sex marriage, with the help of the school’s faculty, that was ultimately published in a law journal, the Family Law Quarterly. Melissa also took advantage of Pace’s connections within the local legal community, and clerked for a Special Referee in the Matrimonial Part of the New York Supreme Court.

After graduating from Pace, Melissa immediately entered private family law practice in the DC metro area. Less than five years after becoming licensed, Melissa was offered a faculty position at a local DC law school. Melissa began teaching International Family Law, as an adjunct faculty memberat The George Washingon University School of Law. She also began advising on matters for the US Department of State, and served as a private sector advisor and US delegation member twice, the first time to meetings in the Hague and second, in 2014, to meetings in Tokyo, Japan, where Melissa also trained Japanese family mediators to handle international child abduction cases.

In 2013, Melissa was offered an opportunity to serve as a consultant to The Hague Conference on Private International Law. She was chosen to provide input and counsel on matters related to two international family law treaties, working directly with the First Secretary in charge of those conventions.

When Melissa returned from the Hague, she was in a position where there were not any job openings that suited her background and career desires. As a result, she founded her own law firm, MK Family Law. MK Family Law is based in Washington, D.C., and Melissa serves as an attorney, mediator, consultant, and is routinely designated as an expert on child abduction prevention. "Family law can be an extremely stressful and emotionally draining area of practice, but it is also the most rewarding in my opinion. It is an area of law where I can really help people and make an immediate impact in a person’s daily life."

Because of her expertise and her neverending quench for knowledge, Melissa is published quite often and also makes many academic presentations throughout the year. Most recently, Melissa presented in Canada on "Alternatives to Hague Abduction Proceedings" at a conference held by the American Bar Association, Family Law Section. She also holds several appointments and is a member of a variety of legal organizations both family law oriented and not. Melissa's hard-work and dedication does not go unrecognized, as she has received several acknowledgements from the American Bar Association, been voted a Superlawyer and has a Avvo rating of 10.0/10.0.

Though it is hard to believe that Melissa has spare time, she spends a portion of it volunteering. She enjoyed her experience at Pace and is consistently willing to mentors students at Pace, at the law school where she teaches, and at her undergraduate school.

Melissa lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area and, when not working, spends a portion of her time traveling both for work and personally. She also enjoys baking, playing tourist in her own city, and cheering for the Baltimore Ravens.