Melba Hughes is a Partner within our In-House Counsel Practice, co-Managing Partner of the Atlanta office, and our National In-House Diversity Practice Leader. She conducts senior leadership searches for general counsel and other high potential legal and compliance positions. She has successfully completed placements throughout the U.S. and internationally with both public and private companies and in a variety of industries.
Melba is a strategic business advisor who understands the impact a diverse team can have on a legal department and on an organization as a whole. At the outset of every relationship, she takes a holistic view of a legal team, focusing on its current culture and desired structure, to help build a high-performing team with complimentary skill sets and diverse perspectives. Melba knows that having a variety of perspectives on a team enables better decision-making. In part, this knowledge informs and explains her tremendous success in working with legal teams and in advising their leadership. As our National In-House Diversity Practice Leader and a member of our In-House D&I Committee, Melba employs her knowledge and expertise to devise and implement programs that promote diversity and inclusion with the candidate slates she presents, clients and, ultimately, the broader legal industry.
Melba lives in Midtown Atlanta with her husband, James B. Hughes Jr., a law professor with Emory University School of Law. A native of Jamaica, she appreciates Caribbean history, foreign travel and World Cup soccer. She enjoys cooking, music, gardening and the beach. Her favorite spot at home is the front porch with a good book and a cup of coffee.
Melba has been in the legal search business for decades, first as a partner in Atlanta-based Hughes and Sloan and then as the founder of Hughes Consultants before joining Major, Lindsey & Africa. She entered the search profession early in her career because she recognized the importance of fully informed decision making in lateral hiring, as well as that of diversity and inclusion. Having married a lawyer, Melba saw the hiring challenges faced by law firms and legal departments, and she engaged to help address them. She believed that she could make a positive difference, and she has. Since that time, she has assisted countless major firms and corporations in augmenting their legal staffs, while making notable progress in placing women, people of color, and others with diverse backgrounds, in both law firms and in general counsel and senior roles within public companies.
An innovative and creative leader in the legal search field, Melba, in conjunction with the Emory University School of Law, launched the Diversity Speakers Series in 2014. She is an active professional and community leader, serving on the boards of several charitable and nonprofit organizations, including the Kanuga Conferences, Inc. and The Paideia School.
A certified professional career coach and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, she is frequently invited to present at and participate in national conferences and seminars. Speaking engagements have included Harvard Law School's Fall Market Series; Women, Influence and Power National Conference; and Corporate Counsel Women of Color. She is regularly featured in the business and legal press, including The Atlanta Business Chronicle, The American Lawyer magazine and the Altman Weil Inc. newsletter.
University of Connecticut: B.A., with honors