Straightforward and steadfast, Melissa Nicholson Sternfels is a member of the firm’s litigation section.
With a focus on fiduciary law, she has represented employees, oil and gas companies, insurance agents, trust beneficiaries and business partners in a wide range of disputes including tortious interference with business opportunity, breach of throughput agreement, construction defect, breach of fiduciary duty, covenant not to compete claims and fraud.
In addition to her litigation practice, she serves as outside “general counsel” to Texas-based companies and high net-worth individuals, advising on matters ranging from employment disputes to corporate governance. Melissa also collaborates with Hirsch and Westheimer’s real estate and transactional practice groups to assist with real estate transactions, landlord-tenant and other real property matters, and routinely negotiates and drafts employment and corporate transactional documents, including separation agreements, restrictive covenants, stock option agreements and promissory notes.
Melissa graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. While in law school, she served on the national board of directors for Equal Justice Works, as a student editor with the Law & Society Journal, participated in UHLC’s Trial Advocacy and Mock Trial programs, and at graduation was recognized by the Faculty of the University of Houston Law Center as one of five recipients of the 2002 Distinguished Service Award. Since graduating from law school, Melissa has stayed active with UHLC, serving as a captain and advisor to the Law Fund committee.
Melissa is very active in her community. Recently, she was appointed to serve on the Shared Decision Making Committee for William B. Travis Elementary. In addition, Melissa has served on the Woodland Heights’ Lights in the Heights®, Centennial and Home Tour committees, as President of the William B. Travis Elementary Foundation, and as a Travis Elementary PTA Board Member, serving as the Garden and Hospitality Chairs, and was recently selected as the Vice President of the Woodland Heights Civic Association, as the Director of Deed Restriction Enforcement. After interning with Aspiring Youth of Houston while in law school, an organization started by the Houston Young Lawyers Association as an after-school program for “at risk” middle school youth, Melissa continued her involvement with that organization by co-chairing the Aspiring Youth of Houston galas and HYLA Aspiring Youth of Houston committee.
She has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Texas Rising Star Super Lawyer in 2006 and as one of Houston’s top civil litigators by H Texas Magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Melissa has also been recognized for her volunteer work, having been named “National Volunteer of the Year” in 2005 by Aspiring Youth of Houston.
In her personal time, Melissa enjoys baking with her daughter, binge-watching baking competitions and true crime documentaries with her husband, and playing catch with her dog.
- A civic association in a deed restriction dispute;
- A former employee in a dispute involving allegations of breach of common law duties and tortious interference with business opportunity;
- Investors in a Throughput Fee Agreement dispute;
- Trust beneficiaries in a dispute involving allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract;
- Title insurance agents in a number of disputes involving allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence;
- Members of a family partnership in a dispute involving allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract;
- A pipeline transportation company in a dispute brought by a major independent oil and gas company including allegations of tortious interference with natural gas supply contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duties and conspiracy;
- The employer in a dispute involving allegations of employment discrimination;
- Partners in a lawsuit alleging breach of a stock purchase agreement;
- Former employees in a dispute against a Fortune 100 Company involving forfeiture of stock options; and
- Insurance agents in various insurance coverage disputes and first party insurance lawsuits.
- Houston Bar Association
- Houston Young Lawyers Association, Aspiring Youth of Houston Committee – Chair
- University of Houston Law Center – Class Section Captain
- University of Houston Law Center Law Fund Committee – Advisor
- Aspiring Youth of Houston Gala Silent Auction – Co-Chair
- Woodland Heights Lights in the Heights® – Committee Member
- Woodland Heights Centennial Committee – Ticket Captain
- Woodland Heights Home Tour Committee – Ticket Captain
- Woodland Heights Civic Association – Vice President, Deed Restrictions
- Woodland Heights Civic Association – Vice President, Membership
- William B. Travis Elementary Foundation – President
- William B. Travis Elementary Parent Teacher Association – Hospitality Chair
- William B. Travis Elementary Parent Teacher Association – Garden Chair
- William B. Travis Elementary Shared Decision Making Committee – Member