established 1891

Melissa joined the firm in August 2010, and became a partner in 2015. Her practice areas include civil litigation, business litigation, insurance defense, trademarks, copyrights, guardianships, conservatorships, and adoptions.  Melissa has represented insurance companies, state governmental agencies, businesses and individuals, and has conducted numerous hearings and trials.

Melissa graduated summa cum laude from the University of Sioux Falls in 2006, and earned her law degree with Sterling Honors from the University of South Dakota in 2009, graduating first in her class. While in law school, Melissa was a member of the Trial Team and Client Counseling and Negotiation Board.  Before joining the firm, she served as a law clerk for the First Judicial Circuit of the State of South Dakota.

Melissa is admitted to practice in the State of South Dakota, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.   She is a member of the Second Circuit Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the South Dakota Defense Lawyers Association.   Super Lawyers® recently named Melissa as one of the Top Rated Civil Litigation Attorneys in Sioux Falls, SD.

Melissa's family includes her husband Steve and sons Brett, Holden, Simon, and Caleb.  Outside of work, Melissa serves as the President of the Church Council and on the Vacation Bible School Committee at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tea, South Dakota.

Melissa successfully defended her clients in the following reported matters: 

  • McDowell v. Sapienza and the City of Sioux Falls, 2018 SD 1, --- N.W.2d ---
  • Sommervold v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 709 F.3d 1234 (8th Cir. 2013);
  • Smith v. Rustic Home Builders, LLC, 826 N.W.2d 357 (SD 2013)
  • Hernandez v. Avera Queen of Peace Hospital et al., 886 N.W.2d 338 (SD 2016).

B.A., University of Sioux Falls (2006), summa cum laude
J.D., University of South Dakota (2009), Sterling Honors
Bar Admissions
South Dakota, 2010
Melissa R. Jelen

T:  +1 605.336.0828
F:  +1 605.336.6036