Melissa Darigan, an attorney at Partridge Snow & Hahn, was recently recognized for the second year in a row as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation, by Legal Media Group. The acknowledgement highlights leading female trial attorneys across the country.
Darigan specializes in complex commercial, business and regulatory affairs in state and federal courts and administrative agencies. She also represents corporate and individual fiduciaries in contested trust and probate matters in the probate and superior courts. She serves as chair of Partridge Snow & Hahn’s litigation practice group and secretary of the Rhode Island Bar Association.
PBN: What experiences inside and outside the legal profession have equipped you with skills that you use as a trial attorney?
DARIGAN: Early on in life, I learned important people skills that help me further my clients’ interests in the litigation arena. Little did I know that playing sports with my brothers would serve me well in a male-dominated profession. My parents also instilled in us to treat others as we would want to be treated. Following this philosophy, I’ve earned trust and respect even in the most contentious litigation situations. On the professional side, the training and mentoring of senior lawyers in the firm have been invaluable. I learned how to advance my clients’ interests in court by emulating their best practices.
PBN: As the leader of Partridge Snow & Hahn’s electronic discovery team, what are some trends you have encountered in the use of electronically stored information in litigation?
DARIGAN: The biggest challenge for clients in e-discovery is being ready before litigation hits – having a plan for responding to document requests alleviates some of the cost and anxiety when a subpoena or complaint is served. After litigation commences, the process of conducting e-discovery can be daunting. We help clients prepare for the inevitable by managing their electronic data pre-suit and have the tools and skills needed to exploit the e-discovery process to the maximum advantage to get the information needed to press claims or defenses.
PBN: You co-founded Women AdVocates for Enterprise (WAVE), an initiative at the firm to help women in business advance professionally. What was your motivation behind this initiative, and what are some examples of WAVE’s activities to help advance women in business?
DARIGAN: We started WAVE to support women-owned and operated businesses and our own women attorneys. Our external focus centers on strategic partnerships with organizations such as Leading Women Southern New England, where we contributed to the knowledge base of business women by sponsoring educational events and presenting on timely and topical legal issues. Recently, we collaborated with the PVD Lady Project Summit where we “woman[n]ed” a booth as well as presented an education session aimed at employers. Internally, we focus on training, mentoring and promotion of female lawyers within the firm. Our efforts have resulted in satisfied, productive and confident women attorneys at all levels of experience. •