New Executive Director Is Focused on NALP’s Core Mission

By Karl C. Riehl
From the President column
November 2022 edition

The 2022-23 Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome Nikia Gray as our association’s new Executive Director. As the former Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Quarles & Brady, as well as the firm’s Director of Recruiting, Nikia is well-positioned to bring valuable perspective to her new role. At Quarles & Brady, Nikia was directly responsible for the operations of a team of more than 60 legal personnel and lawyers. Her background has provided her with critical insights regarding the upheaval that has characterized the legal profession over the past few years. Her insights will augment NALP’s capacity to help our members navigate the current employment environment and other post-pandemic challenges.

Nikia’s educational background prepared her for leadership. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and the University of Pennsylvania. She also attended the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University and is a graduate of the highly acclaimed Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity fellowship program for diverse attorney leaders.

Nikia’s appointment was the result of a months-long search across North America conducted by the NALP Board of Directors and advised by a specially appointed Transition Task Force and a professional search firm. As we conducted the search, we talked to Nikia’s current and former colleagues, and those conversations resonated with us. She was described as an advocate, mentor, and a hard worker, who is supportive, inclusive, and the “utmost professional.” One quote struck the Board of Directors as particularly telling: “[Nikia] is one of those people who is not just doing their job but getting the right answers to help a lot of people … Nikia understands the bigger picture and builds trust. People see that she is in it for the mission of the organization.”

That Nikia is not only passionate about NALP’s core mission to advance legal careers, but also has a vision for how to build on NALP’s success in the current challenging environment, became clear across our numerous discussions with her. Further, as an individual from an underrepresented background who led Quarles & Brady’s Inclusion Initiative, she will bring important insights and leadership to NALP’s efforts to assist our members in building and implementing DEI initiatives. Under Nikia’s leadership and with support from the Board of Directors, NALP will continue to use its knowledge base, research, and other tools to help legal employers truly understand the state of the legal industry and to plot a path forward for creating and fostering cultures of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am confident that the future of NALP is in good hands with Nikia, and that she will build on NALP’s success, maximizing our association’s capacity to continue to provide real value to our members and the legal profession.

That we were able to attract a tremendously talented and diverse applicant pool, and eventually to hire someone of Nikia’s caliber, is a testament to the great work of former NALP Executive Director James G. Leipold and his staff, as well as the Board of Directors and our active members — past and present — this collective achievement represents the culmination of years of hard work.

Therefore, this announcement is bittersweet, as we are also saying “farewell” to Jim as he retires to the sunsets of New Mexico. Jim leaves a strong legacy to build on — NALP is the leading organization for research on the legal industry, and is a sought-after resource for insights, data, and critical information by legal employers across the spectrum. Under Jim’s leadership, NALP not only weathered the 2008-09 Great Recession and the global COVID-19 pandemic but has come through stronger than ever. While we will miss Jim, NALP’s future is bright.


Karl C. Riehl is Director of Practice Management at Epstein Becker Green and 2022-2023 NALP President.

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