Mel Orchard received his undergraduate finance degree from Washington State University in 1988 and his J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1992, where he also served as student body president. After a law clerk position with the 9th Judicial District Court, Mel spent over 10 years specializing in civil trial litigation until early 2005 when he was asked to join Gerry Spence’s team of litigators. Mel has been a partner in The Spence Law Firm since 2005.
During his trial career, Mel has been a part of record breaking civil jury verdicts in both Wyoming (2.25 million dollar mild traumatic brain injury case), Arizona (11 million dollar trucking wrongful death), and Iowa (13.67 million dollar collision with a police car quadriplegia case) and he has tried over 35 major cases in state and federal courts throughout the West. And because the majority of cases end up in settlement prior to trial or during trial, Mel has negotiated hundreds of cases totaling more than 100 million dollars for injured clients and families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death. Mel has also represented clients in business and commercial litigation including securities fraud, breach of contract and fiduciary duty cases throughout the West.
Mel is a board member and past president of the Wyoming Trial Lawyer’s Association and a current Governor to the American Association of Justice. He is also Board Certified as a Trial Attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (dual boarded in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Practice). He currently serves as the President of the American Board of Trial Advocates and as the President Elect of the Wyoming Commission for Judicial Conduct, a commission to which he was first appointed in 2011.
To further develop his trial skills, Mel attended his partner Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer College (TLC) and was asked to be on staff the following year. As a TLC graduate and staff member, Mel joined his fellow partners as graduates, staff members and teachers of the most prestigious and most demanding trial college in the world.
In addition to the work that directly benefits clients, throughout his career, Mel has created and presented educational materials to various attorney and non-attorney groups including lawyers, hospital risk assessment personnel, educators and administrators and even insurance adjusters. Mel also volunteers his time to several non-profit boards, and not for profit organizations, including Lawyers and Advocates for Wyoming (LAW), Habitat for Humanity, Community Learning Center and Off Square Theatre Company. In whatever spare time that remains, Mel coaches sports teams in Teton County (including Varsity Basketball and Football), but mostly in programs that involve his two children, Owen and Oliver. Mel and his wife Brandie are active in their church and as a family devote time to both enjoying and preserving the outdoor environment of the mountain west.