Exploring Life at Hogan Lovells with associate Melissa Giangrande Jacobs

Washington, D.C.-based Melissa Giangrande Jacobs was recently announced as our new Pro Bono Associate as a result of her inspiring dedication to pro bono work and advocacy for underrepresented communities, which reflects our commitment to racial equity and access to justice. In the next instalment of our 'Exploring Life at Hogan Lovells' series, we learn about how her childhood experiences impacted her career choices, and what she'd like to achieve through her pro bono efforts.

What attracted you to Hogan Lovells?

The people. That was the first thing I noticed. When I was interviewing during law school, everyone I met at Hogan Lovells was compassionate and kind. It seemed like a place where people wanted you to succeed, and that turned out to be true. We have some of the world’s best legal minds, but also the best human beings.

The other thing that drew me to the firm was its world-class pro bono department. I knew I wanted to make pro bono work the heart of my legal practice, and I’m so grateful Hogan Lovells has been a place where I can do that.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career and focus on pro bono work?

Growing up as the only child of a single mother in New Jersey, we relied on food stamps and a section 8 housing voucher. After a years-long battle with a debilitating autoimmune disease, my mother had to leave her job as a secretary at a hospital and go on permanent disability. Overnight, our family lost all income. Pro bono lawyers were our heroes. They helped us stave off eviction and eventually appeal and gain access to the social security disability benefits we needed to survive. I promised myself that if I were ever in a position to provide the same service to others, I would.

I’m really grateful I now have the chance to make good on that promise to myself.

What impact do you hope to achieve through your pro bono efforts?

One of our pro bono clients once described her Hogan Lovells’ attorney team as a “blessing that helped [her] win [her] life back.”

I hope that we can make all of our clients feel that same way. Our goal is to provide the highest-quality legal services that truly make a difference in our clients’ lives and help them overcome the challenges they face.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Obtaining our client’s release from prison after 42 long years based on constitutional violations, including ineffective assistance of counsel. It was a career highlight to stand in the courtroom with our client and watch him walk out of the courthouse, free, and into the arms of his family after decades apart.

What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?

You should do as much pro bono work as possible! For me, pro bono has been rewarding, energizing, and incredibly fulfilling. I think young lawyers who do it get the best of both worlds: They make a real difference in their clients’ lives and gain invaluable skills in the process.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I am a proud dog mom of our goldendoodle. (His name is Hank, and he is a very good boy). I've also been playing a lot of tennis. But as my husband can attest, I still need a lot of work on my backhand. And forehand. And serve. . .  On second thought, I suppose “playing tennis” is a very charitable phrase for what I do on the court.

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