Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Melissa S. May studied criminal justice at Indiana University-South Bend before earning her law degree from Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis in 1984. She then launched a 14-year career in private legal practice in Evansville that focused on insurance defense and personal injury litigation.
Judge May moved directly from private practice to the Court of Appeals in 1998 and was retained by election in 2000 and 2010. Prior to this year, she served as Presiding Judge of the Fourth District, which covers all of Indiana.
Judge May has long been active in local, state and national bar associations and foundations, with a particular focus on continuing legal education and appellate practice. At various times, Judge May has chaired the Indiana State Bar Association’s Litigation and Appellate Practice sections and was secretary to the Board of Governors.
As chair of the Indiana Pro Bono Commission (for the public good), Judge May worked with 14 pro bono districts to train lawyers and mediators on how to assist homeowners facing foreclosure. She currently serves on the Coalition for Court Access which provides a focused and comprehensive organizational structure for Indiana’s civil legal aid programs.
Judge May teaches trial advocacy at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and frequently speaks on legal topics to attorneys, other Judges, schools, and other professional and community organizations. She is special counsel to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Attorney Specialization, on which she’s served since 2003.
In October 2011, Judge May received the Women in the Law Recognition Award from the Indiana State Bar Association for her dedication to helping women advance in the legal community.