Melissa Hirst is Inspire11’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. She is a recovering BigLaw trial attorney who spent 16 years defending product liability suits and handling complex commercial disputes for her Fortune 500 clients. As a trial attorney, she got to break down complex issues, learn the science behind her case, and draw out people’s stories. Now, she has the opportunity to work with Inspire11’s consultants, creatives, and executives to develop new approaches to our clients’ problems, while also counseling her team on legal, risk management, and compliance issues. Melissa believes that, together, smart, diverse, hard-working people can do incredible things, and she loves seeing Inspire11 consultants prove her right! She focuses on helping Inspire11 and its clients create mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships and making sure that Inspire11’s compliance and regulatory obligations are met. She works with Inspire11’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion committee, as well as its InspiHER committee, and is proud of Inspire11’s commitment to inspire a better tomorrow for all.
Melissa has a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in Government and French. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked with companies in a variety of industries—health care, pharmaceuticals, technology, financial services, and food manufacturing. She’s won trials, arbitrations, and administrative hearings across the country, and was named a Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers from 2014-2020. She’s a member of the Northern District of Illinois’ Trial Bar, and is admitted to many courts throughout the country. Melissa is committed to giving back to her city and her community. She has represented clients pro bono in immigration and asylum hearings, on habeas corpus petitions, and in administrative hearings regarding medical neglect. In partnership with the Civic Consulting Alliance, she advised the Chicago Ethics Reform Task Force regarding reforms and served as counsel for the committee. She is a trained mediator and Board President for the Center for Conflict Resolution and she also serves on the board of the Chicago Bar Foundation.
If Melissa’s not working or volunteering, she’s probably hanging out with her sports-obsessed family. She coaches her kids in basketball and volleyball at Queen of Angels (go Knights!), watches them play baseball and soccer, too, and occasionally convinces her husband to turn on something besides English Premier League soccer or Men in Blazers. She loves cooking, wine, and reading (not necessarily in that order) and loves getting together with her family back home in Akron, Ohio as much as possible.