The search for Leipold’s replacement took several months, and the process was overseen by a Transition Task Force, which engaged with a professional search organization, along with the entity’s board of directors.
“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,” said Karl Riehl, NALP board president, in a statement. “We are confident that Nikia will bring the experience, energy, and vision to lead NALP into the future.”
According to the announcement, Gray is a member of the bars in Arizona, Virginia and Washington, D.C. as well as the Native American Bar Association. Presently, she works out of Quarles & Brady’s Washington, D.C. office.
"Thanks to @SenAlexPadilla for emphasizing the importance of diversity among federal law clerks. A clerkship can lead to many important legal jobs, including judgeships. This is why ACS is working to increase diversity amongst law clerks through education and mentoring programs."
Gray said she is excited to join the organization and has lauded the NALP for its utility in providing research resources, guidance and best practices for law students and other legal professionals.
“I have also seen first-hand the unparalleled passion and commitment of the NALP staff, Board Members, and membership,” Gray said. “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.”
Leipold steps down as the job market for lawyers remains relatively high. In August, the NALP noted in its “Employment for the Class of 2021—Selected Findings” report, overall employment was up for 2021 graduates by 3.5 percentage points and totaled nearly 92%. That figure bested the 88.4% for the Class of 2020.
Additionally, the median salary for the 2021 cohort was an all-time high of $80,000, which was up 6.7% when compared to the median salary of $75,000 for the previous year’s class. “Nikia is a skilled litigator whose years at Quarles & Brady have proven her to be an excellent leader committed to client service, expanding our inclusion initiatives, and supporting the overall success of the firm,” said Kimberly Leach Johnson, firm chair of Quarles & Brady, at the time Gray was made a managing partner.
She begins as executive director officially on Monday, Oct. 17.