Getting personal with family law attorney Melanie Corbin Rice
September 2, 2014
Melanie joined Nichols Zauzig Sandler, P.C. in 2003 and practices domestic relations and family law.
ROOTS: Melanie spent her entire childhood in Prince William County’s Montclair community. She counts herself lucky to have had many of the same friends from cradle to high school graduation. “My Mom grew up moving around as a military brat. It was important to her that we knew this was our home and we would grow up here.” Now, Melanie, her husband and son (pictured left at Disneyworld) live near Fredericksburg in a community reminiscent of Montclair, with a large lake, community pools and plenty of neighborhood cookouts.
EDUCATION: Music was a strong influence from a young age. But when her mother tried teaching Melanie the piano, “I just wanted to get up and dance and move around.” She soon entered the dance studio and remains involved there to this day. Law was always an interest, but she chose to major in dance at Towson University, figuring youth was on her side, and she could pursue law later in life.
WHY LAW?: Melanie says the bridge between dance and litigation is not as unusual as it may seem. Both professions “require you to be prepared, have everything ready, be in your element and respond and react—in the courtroom and on stage.” She was a full-time dance instructor for several years after college and later augmented as a volunteer court advocate. In 1998, she entered George Mason University School of Law, focusing on litigation and family law.
GIVING BACK: Melanie’s practice of family law aligns with her abiding interest in supporting victims of domestic abuse. Since 2002, she’s been extensively involved with Empowerhouse, a Fredericksburg-area non-profit supporting survivors of domestic violence.
HEROES: Melanie’s heroes echo the facets of her life. Her mother, a bank fraud investigator, showed Melanie that the dual roles of Mom and career woman were possible. At Legal Aid, Melanie’s boss motivated her with an unrelenting work ethic rooted in passion for helping clients. Melanie embraces the individuality of modern choreography icon Martha Graham, who created a unique and enduring dance form. (Photo from left: Melanie, her sister, cousins and Mom
FAMILY: Traditions and travel highlight Melanie’s life with husband Ralph and 8-year-old son, Liam. Annual Thanksgiving trips to New York City are supplemented by visits to Disneyworld (she was engaged there), cruises, concerts and sporting events. “Liam has done more in his seven years than some adults do in a lifetime!”
PASSIONS: Melanie’s work week ends in the dance studio, where she teaches on Friday evenings. She’s a music lover, notably the Beatles, and attends Abbey Road on the Riverevents in D.C. Melanie enjoys novels, recently finishing the Outlander series. Her favorite pastime? “Hanging out at home with my son and husband, whether we’re playing with the dogs, reading or just being quiet.”
FAVORITE TEAM: Melanie is nondiscriminatory when it comes to Washington, D.C. sports teams. She has Redskins season tickets and grew up attending Sunday home games. Her family Rocks the Red for the Capitals–and have attended the NHL Winter Classic, which is where Melanie and her son were photographed (right). Summers frequently find them at Nationals Park watching baseball games.
DOING IT ALL: A dizzying array of interests, coupled with community service and a demanding job: how does Melanie do it all? “I don’t. No one can. You have to focus on the here and now keep your priorities going.” She emphasizes parenting is a true partnership with Ralph who “does a lot and has always done a lot. That’s the only way I can do what I hope to do.”
PROFESSIONAL PRIDE: “Our Virginia Bar certificates say Attorney & Counselor of Law, and some days I am more counselor than attorney,” Melanie says. This personal approach enhances the rewarding end result—helping clients navigate through one of the most difficult times in their lives.
ON NZS LAW: Melanie appreciates the measured approach at Nichols Zauzig, where “we don’t take every case that walks in the door—we focus on certain areas of practice. This gives us the time to know the details and intricacies that are so uniquely important in that field of law.”