Melissa Ruggiero is currently a Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services in Pittsburgh.  She provides legal services for the elder law program and represents clients denied Social Security disability benefits.

Prior to joining NLS in 2020, she worked for five years as Associate Counsel at the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel representing indigent defendants charged with crimes from disorderly conduct to homicide and defendants in Mental Health Court.  She also worked as a Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands and in the War Crimes Chamber at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo providing legal services and advice regarding international law, international criminal law and procedure to the Judges hearing war crimes cases. 

Ms. Ruggiero earned her LL.M in Human Rights and Criminal Justice (Cross Border) from Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland, Galway in 2007.  She earned her Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law in 2003 and a Bachelor of Arts in History from John Carroll University in 1999. 

She serves as Co-President of the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania since 2018 and served as co-chair of the South Pittsburgh Opioid Action Coalition (SPOAC) from 2018 to 2020.


  • LL.M., Queen's University Belfast and National University of Ireland, Galway
  • J.D., Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
  • B.A., John Carroll University

Profile Information

  • Judicial Bench Book: Working Tools to Assist the Trial Judge , Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina · Dec 14, 2011, Co-editor with Judge Patricia Whalen.  The purpose of this Bench Book is to provide a quick, practical guide to help judges of Bosnia and Herzegovina with situations they are likely to encounter on the bench. The Bench Book covers procedures that are required by Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, offering detailed guidance from experienced trial and appellate judges on these requirements and other matters that arise in the courtroom. The Bench Book is also available in the local language BCS.

  • One Door Closes and Another One Opens: The Special Court for Sierra Leone , International Judicial Monitor – Winter 2014 Issue 

  • Establishing the Rule of Law in the Republic of Macedonia after the 2001 Conflict
    Sts. Cyril and Methodius Law Journal, Skopje, Macedonia