Beyond the Bar Number – Jacqui Merrill Martin

drawing of a woman with two dogs on a hiking trail

Jacqui Merrill Martin


Jacqui is a Principal at Compliance Counsel PLLC, a boutique law firm that handles corporate compliance and pro bono matters. She aims to pursue endeavors that make stronger and more compassionate communities, whether through youth mentorship, legal support of nonprofits, or direct representation of clients in need. 

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What is the most interesting case you have handled in your career so far and why? Representing a man who was sentenced to 53 years after committing a crime at the age of 16. He served 25 years and is thriving after his release. I believe that given the proper resources and support, everyone is capable of contributing goodness to their neighbors and to the world. Helping this client live freely for the first time as an adult was a deeply moving culmination of my legal education and early career.

If you could change one thing about the legal system, what would you change? There is plenty of room for improvement in our legal system, particularly on the criminal side. One of my top priorities would be extending juvenile jurisdiction to include youthful offenders up to the age of 25. This is consistent with studies on adolescent cognitive and emotional development establishing the clear connection between youth and decreased moral culpability for criminal conduct, and has been reinforced by my experience working with young people. Such a change would shift the focus from punishment to rehabilitation and would open doors to diversion programs that help young people change their lives for the better.

How did you become interested in your practice area? My practice spans several distinct areas, but a restorative justice clinic in law school that diverted juvenile criminal cases using mediation was formative for me. I then started my career at a boutique firm handling corporate compliance matters and doing as much pro bono work as I could fit in. In founding my firm, I melded several practice areas that share little in common except their importance to me: corporate ethics and compliance, restorative justice, community nonprofits, post-conviction, and immigration. 

At the end of your career, how would you like to be remembered professionally? As someone who charted her own path and amplified the voices of those we most need to hear. 


If you had to give a 10-minute presentation on one topic other than the law, what would it be and why? I would give a presentation on my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful, eclectic town situated in the mountains of Western North Carolina full of wonderful people, fun outdoor activities, and fantastic food and beer. I am proud to be from there and love telling people all about it!

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Yogurt and berries.

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal that you’re slightly embarrassed to buy? Cocoa Krispies.

What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you? I played club soccer at UNC-Chapel Hill.

What is your favorite smell? Mint.

What is your favorite podcast? Slate’s “Political Gabfest.”

What is the last thing you watched on television? Ted Lasso.

What is the best fictional representation (TV, movie, book) of a lawyer? Rachel Zane, Suits (bonus: her off-the-screen activism is inspiring).

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