D. Melissa Averett
Certified NC Family Law Specialist
Melissa Averett has been practicing as a family law attorney in Orange and Chatham Counties since 1998. She has earned a reputation for fighting passionately to protect her clients’ rights, while at the same time working to keep their costs reasonable.
Guiding clients through some of the most traumatic chapters in their life, a divorce, custody battle or probate after the death of a loved one, is a position of intimacy and trust. It’s an honor to be chosen for that role.”
Melissa is currently the only Family Law Specialist primarily practicing in Chatham County. Melissa has conducted workshops, continuing legal education seminars, and given talks on family law related topics. She is also qualified to testify as an expert witness on the subject of domestic violence.
Melissa received her undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1986 and worked several years as a 911 telecommunicator before deciding to become a family law attorney. She attended the NCCU School of Law Evening Program, starting Averett Law Offices (now Averett Family Law) after she graduated.
In 2000, Melissa founded the non-profit law firm Domestic Violence Civil Legal Services, Inc. (DVC), and served as its director. Over the course of DVC’s 8-year history, Melissa represented several thousand indigent domestic violence victims in family law cases. She has a passion for helping victims get monetary damages from their abusers in civil court and is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.
When she’s not at work, Melissa can be found crocheting, weaving on her floor loom, and trying to keep the cats from covering all her yarn and crafts in fur, usually unsuccessfully.
Justin P. Nichols
Attorney Justin Nichols practices family, personal injury, and criminal law in Chatham, Orange, Durham, and Wake Counties. He joined Averett Family Law in 2012, after practicing in the fields of personal injury defense, workers’ compensation, and complex construction litigation.
Justin has extensive experience in the courtroom litigating cases, as well as helping clients negotiate out-of-court settlements. He has handled cases before state administrative agencies, the state superior and district courts, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the federal district court.
Justin graduated cum laude from Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, North Carolina, and received a B.A. in Legal Studies from the State University of New York. He has been admitted to practice in the North Carolina state courts, and in the federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Justin is also a member of the District 15B Bar Association, and the North Carolina Bar Association.
John T. Stewart
Mr. Stewart received his undergraduate degree from UNC-CH in 1968 and obtained his law degree from NC Central School of Law in 1975. Upon passing the Bar, he formed and was a partner at Levine & Stewart. Prior to his education, Mr. Stewart served in the Navy Reserve from 1969 – 1974 and served active duty from 1970 – 1972 on the USS Hunley. He graduated from Naval Justice School with distinction in 1970. He received the Naval Achievement Medal in 1972. Mr. Stewart is a strong advocate for families of individuals with developmental disabilities. He has authored two guides for estate planning for families with persons with disabilities and is a frequent speaker on this topic. He has served on the Board of Residential Services, Inc., Orange/Person Chatham Mental Health and Life Plan Trust.