Melissa O’Connell

Staff Attorney/Policy Liaison/Lecturer

Melissa received her J.D. with a concentration in Public Interest and Social Justice from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2003. Melissa was one of the early practitioners with Fresh Lifelines for Youth (F.L.Y.), a legal non-profit working with at-risk youth in Santa Clara County. Melissa was a Public Defender in Solano County representing indigent clients charged with various misdemeanor and felony level offenses. With that trial experience, Melissa went on to join a boutique criminal defense firm in Berkeley, CA and practiced in multiple jurisdictions throughout Northern California. In January 2010, Melissa returned to Santa Clara School of Law where she currently serves as a Staff Attorney and Policy Liaison for the Northern California Innocence Project, where she litigates cases of wrongful conviction, supervises clinical law students, and lobbies and testifies in Sacramento for legislative reforms inspired by innocence work. As a Lecturer in Law, Melissa has taught courses in Legal Analysis, Advanced Legal Writing, Interviewing & Counseling, Introduction to U.S. Law and served as Coach for the Juvenile External Honors Moot Court Competition.


J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law

B.S., Villanova University