40 Under Forty 2023

P ragmatic, reasonable, diligent and compassionate. That’s how Melissa Caballero Dunn’s peers describe this family law attorney. It’s an approach that pays off. Dunn focuses on maximizing the pos- itive outcomes for her clients while minimizing their litigation costs. Families going through divorce and child-custody disputes face enough stresses. Dunn works to make sure that they spend as little time in court as possible. Jennifer Lavin, a family law attorney in Chicago, points to the key role that Dunn played in resolving two recent highly contested matters that without her approach would have gone to trial and inefficiently drained funds that the parties did not have. The narrow issues at the heart of these matters were eventually resolved by agreement, a far more cost-effective approach, Lavin said. “It is refreshing to work with Melissa because she is realistic and candid about the issues involved in her cases while being sensitive to both parties’ positions, no matter which party she represents,” Lavin said. “This ability to analyze her cases at a meta level sets Melissa apart from many other family law attorneys who often become enmeshed with their clients’ positions rather than being able to detach and focus on the resolution of their matters in the ways that make sense both in terms of the law and the parties’ resources, which are almost always better used anywhere else other than at trial.” Ashley Orler, an attorney with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, said that few attorneys can match the dedication that Dunn has to her clients. Orler said that Dunn takes a firm but empathetic approach to her cases. She is able to guide her clients through difficult situations by understanding their goals and accurately informing them of the legal system’s capabilities. “In short, vulnerable clients trust Melissa to help them, and she hon- ors that trust,” Orler said. “She dedicates herself to her clients, making herself available almost 24/7. She is compassionate for the emotional toll these disputes take on not only her own clients, but the other family members.” Dunn is also dedicated to her profession. Not only is she managing partner at her firm, but she is a guardian ad litem, which requires extra training and approval from the county. She is also a certified mediator, which requires 40 hours of training. “Melissa exhibits constant professionalism and patience when deal- ing with clients and colleagues in our industry, an extremely important skill in the area of family law, where emotions are high,” said Alexandra Perraud with Chicago’s Davis Friedman LLP. “She constantly strives to gain more knowledge, education or training in the area of family law and beyond. She does not discriminate with the types of cases that she takes and provides her services for people of all backgrounds and income and works to serve them to the best of her ability.”


AGE 3 8

FIRM Law Offices of Jonathan Merel

LAW SCHOOL Chicago-Kent College of Law



This ability to analyze her cases at a meta level sets Melissa apart from many other family law attorneys.”



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