Melissa Tapanes Llahues has made her mark not only in the legal profession but also in the greater Miami community. She became a named partner at Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin and Tapanes, PLLC in 2020.
Melissa represents the interests of landowners, institutional clients, and developers seeking real estate licensing and regulatory approvals from governmental boards and agencies at the local, state and federal levels. She specializes in managing complex and politically sensitive legislative and quasi-judicial matters from initial due diligence to permitting, including applications and issues related to developments of regional impact, amendments to local government comprehensive plans, vested rights, public private partnerships, zoning, platting, and site planning, as well as development agreements, enforcement, eminent domain, historic preservation, and archaeological resources.
Highly committed to her community, Melissa was appointed as a member of the Miami Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors, where she serves as Chair of the Urbanism Commitee. She served on the City of Miami’s Miami 21 Report Ad Hoc Task Force where she was elected Chair by her peers to lead in the review of the Miami 21 Zoning Code. She served as Chair of the Florida International University President’s Council for three years and on the Board of Directors of the Latin Builders Association for over a decade. She is a trustee of the Builders Association of South Florida and involved with numerous legal and civic organizations, including Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) and the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA). In 2017, the South Florida Business Journal recognized her professional accomplishments and community leadership with its coveted 2017 “40 Under 40” Award. In 2021, she was recognized as one of Ford Motor Company’s Mujeres Legendarias representing Ford’s pillar of leadership. Melissa received the Miami Dade Bar Association Circle of Excellence Award in 2023 in recognition of her accomplishments in government relations.
The Legal 500 has named her a “Recommended Attorney” every year since 2017 and is ranked in Chambers USA. She has been named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers® and an “Up and Comer” by Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, and selected for inclusion in numerous Who’s Who publications.
Melissa graduated from the University of Miami School of Law (Juris Doctor, cum laude) and the Florida International University Honors College (Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Geography, magna cum laude). During her law studies, she clerked for the Honorable Scott J. Silverman in the 11th judicial Circuit of Florida and for the law firm of Black, Srebnick, Kornspan, & Stumpf.
Her activism has been long in the making. In 1999, Melissa was appointed to the State of Florida Board of Education Postsecondary Education Planning Commission (PEPC) by Governor Jeb Bush, where she recommended legislation, funding, and policy initiatives to the Governor, Legislature, and Board of Education for both public and private higher education institutions. While still an undergraduate, Melissa spearheaded the student initiative for the approval and funding of a public law school as a lobbyist for Florida International University’s Student Government Association.