The arc of Melodie Hengerer’s legal career has not been the traditional arc of a successful attorney.
After earning her law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002, graduating fifth in her class, she worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., for a year before leaving to follow her husband to a job as a Marine JAG officer in North Carolina and the life of a full-time mother.
The family moved back to Baltimore in 2007 and five years later, feeling her two children were old enough, she was hired by the Baltimore City Law Department as an assistant solicitor (“the luckiest thing that ever happened to me,” she recalled), which got her back in the legal field.
She later worked for two local law firms, practicing business litigation and medical malpractice, but finally found her purpose when she began providing legal advice to the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, the federally designated organ procurement organization for the state.
In 2020, Hengerer joined Baker Donelson, in Baltimore, to establish a full-time practice helping health care providers and organ procurement organizations (OPOs) navigate often complex legal and regulatory challenges.
That practice has grown from two clients to include eight OPOs and several transplant centers and laboratories.
“I am proud of my willingness to take a risk on developing a unique and successful practice that gives me purpose and helps others,” Hengerer said. “I am most proud of the way I have been able to resurrect my career while also being significantly present in my daughters’ lives and modeling balance and success for them as a woman.”
“In my 36-year career with organ procurement organizations, I have worked with many attorneys on diverse legal matters, and without question, Ms. Hengerer is one of the best,” said Lorie E. Brigham, president and CEO of the Washington Regional Transplant Community.
Another admirer, Robert D. Anbinder, who worked with Hengerer in his role of chief solicitor for the Law Department of Baltimore City, put his admiration for her work this way: “She can help save lives, a claim not many other attorneys can make.”
I am proud of my willingness to take a risk on developing a unique and successful practice that gives me purpose and helps others.”