Meet Nikia Gray, NALP Executive Director

Nikia Gray is the new Executive Director of NALP. Gray, who succeeds James G. Leipold in the role, previously worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Quarles & Brady, where she served as Office Managing Partner since 2018 and Director of Legal Recruiting.

“Nikia brings an exciting and unique background and perspective to the role of Executive Director. She has led a team of more than 60 lawyers and legal personnel. Importantly, she was the firm’s Director of Recruiting and was directly responsible for hiring strategies that dramatically increased the firm’s diverse attorney population. We are confident that Nikia will bring the experience, energy, and vision to lead NALP into the future,” said Karl Riehl, NALP Board President.

While at Quarles & Brady, Gray devoted most of her practice to district court litigation, particularly high-stakes competitor litigation, in the areas of patent, trademark, copyright, and unfair competition. She also advised clients on data privacy, compliance, media and advertising issues, First Amendment concerns, social media matters, and provided freedom to operate and clearance opinions, and monetization strategies. In her legal recruiting role, Gray oversaw the development and implementation of the firm’s nationwide legal talent acquisition strategies. As part of her innovative growth strategies, Gray was not only directly responsible for growing her home office from 17 employees to nearly 70, but successfully increased both the number of diverse attorneys and diverse overall personnel in Quarles & Brady’s Washington, D.C. office to well over 30%, a number often recognized as the critical mass needed to interrupt bias and establish cultural change.  She also served as the Chair of the Q&B2025 Inclusion strategic planning initiative, Washington, D.C. Chair of Quarles & Brady’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Washington, D.C. Chair of Quarles & Brady’s Women’s Forum, as well as a member of the IP Litigation Client Development Committee. Gray is also a 2018 LCLD (Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity) Fellow.

“I am excited to join NALP as Executive Director. I have turned to NALP frequently during my legal career as a resource for research, best practices, and guidance. I have also seen first-hand the unparalleled passion and commitment of the NALP staff, Board Members, and membership. I am looking forward to building on NALP’s success in supporting all our member organizations in advancing the changes necessary to best serve their clients, communities, and workforces in a post-pandemic legal world. As part of this work, NALP will continue to deliver on its core purpose to inform, connect, and develop experts who impact and advance legal careers,” she said.

A member of the Arizona, Virginia, and D.C. Bars and a member of the Native American Bar Association, Gray started her career gaining practical experience as a physicist. Before becoming a lawyer, she worked for several years in the private sector developing optical software solutions for the illumination industries. When not in the office, Gray is an avid art enthusiast, both creating works herself and collecting art from emerging artists. Her weekends are often spent supporting her husband Billy Wood’s musical talents in his 90s band White Ford Bronco or at home with their two fur-children, cats Lada and Luna. 

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