Melissa "Missy" Boyd has emerged as one of Eastern Pennsylvania's leading young matrimonial attorneys, a productive and energetic lawyer who, now in her mid 30s, is already a partner at the respected Norristown firm of High Swartz LLP. Indeed, by all accounts Boyd has established herself as a positive and grounding influence in matrimonial and family-law cases, particularly in Montgomery County, where High Swartz is based. (The 23-lawyer firm is approaching its 100th anniversary, the oldest continuous legal practice in the county.)
Peers say Boyd brings to her work maturity and poise, in part because, better than most lawyers today, she has balanced home and work life so effectively - no small achievement in these ultra-demanding times. What's more, her background reflects strong character developed, and challenges overcome, early on: While growing up in Fort Washington, Md., outside Washington, she and her sisters were teens when their mother was diagnosed with cancer. "We were self-starters, very motivated, to begin with," says Boyd today, "but the experience with our mother made us focus, on our family and our futures, in a way a lot of young people don't."
After graduating from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Va., she and her twin sister went on to, and roomed together at, Washington College, just across the Bay Bridge in Chestertown, Md., close enough to their mother (she passed away their freshman year) and father ("The greatest dad anyone could have - he held us all together"). Missy graduated in sociology near the top of her class and went straight on to law school (her twin sister Melanie majored in chemistry and became a pharmacist). "I thought I would combine my interest in social work with the law - in a real sense, that's how it worked out."
In law school she worked with children in low-income families in Baltimore, learning first-hand the legal system's approach to families and their problems; later she interned with the ABA's Center for Children and The Law, and clerked with Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Stuart R. Berger. After excelling in law school she was hired as an associate with Mattioni, Ltd., the longtime Center City firm. For two years (during which she took and passed the bar in three states) she focused on general litigation as well as acting as the firm's sole family-law attorney for a period of time. Amid those early cases she learned of the reputation of Mary Cushing Doherty of High Swartz, who over the last two decades built one of the most respected family-law practices in the region; they were a good fit, as lawyers both family- and child-focused, and she joined the firm in early 2004. "It was Mary's and the firm's reputation that drew me here," says Boyd today.
Boyd, who handles a wide range of matrimonial litigation, was named a partner in 2008, just before leaving to have her second child. All along Boyd and her husband Jeffrey Boyd (a Sergeant with the Hatfield Township PD) were growing their family; they now have three young children. Even on maternity leaves Boyd has built her practice, continuing to meet with clients and even litigate matters when necessary. "It's one of the unique aspects of the culture of High Swartz - our firm encourages flexibility and creative solutions. I think our clients see that."
Today Doherty's - and Boyd's - family law department now totals four lawyers; it is one of the most active in the region. "Missy is a great asset to our firm - she has excellent instincts for the law, and for our clients' challenges," says Doherty, herself one of the original Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of Greater Philadelphia. "All of that make Missy very effective." Boyd - cheerful, highly organized, a natural multi-tasker - is likely to be a fixture in the profession for years to come.