A certified specialist in employment and labor law since 1993, M. Malissa Burnette long has worked for workplace and social justice. She took on the Ku Klux Klan when she was a teen-ager, and she’s fought to defend the rights of others ever since. She has a wealth of experience in family law, personal injury, sexual harassment and discrimination law as well.
Malissa’s record includes participation in ground-breaking cases, such as The United States of America and Nancy Mellette v. James E. Jones, Jr., Chairman, Board of Visitors of The Citadel, which opened the doors of the state-supported Citadel to female students, and Tara Bailey v. SC High School League, which allowed girls in South Carolina public schools to play contact sports.
She practices in state and federal courts, primarily representing individuals in complex employment cases involving discrimination, civil and constitutional rights, breach of contract, covenants to not compete, employment-related torts, wage payment claims and academic tenure and promotions issues. Malissa has represented a range of clients, from business to individuals, non-profits to academia. She’s also an experienced mediator – she’s certified at the federal level – and arbitrator.
A frequent speaker at programs on employment law for the South Carolina Bar, the South Carolina Association for Justice and the American Trial Lawyers Association, Malissa has presented and authored more than 50 continuing legal education programs. She’s authored more than 30 articles for legal and business publications. She co-authored and edited all four editions of Labor and Employment Law for South Carolina Lawyers, the state’s go-to guide on that topic.
She has served the community and her profession through numerous Bar positions, civic organizations, church boards and commissions. She’s held a number of appointed positions over the years, ranging from The Governor’s Domestic Violence Task Force to the board of directors of South Carolina Equality. She also served as former Lt. Gov. Nancy Stevenson’s chief of staff.
Malissa earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of South Carolina and a juris doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She was profiled in USC’s alumni magazine in an article about her history of working for social justice.
Malissa is married to Michael G. LeFever. They have a daughter, Grant Burnette LeFever, who is attending the University of South Carolina School of Law.