Melissa Gray calls herself an indecisive person. Luckily, with a law degree, she has the freedom to explore different outcomes and options. It lets you find what you’re passionate about, she says.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in international relations at Florida State University and her JD at Florida Coastal School of Law, Gray worked at Kastl Law and Fears Nachawati Law Firm. She then joined Klemchuk LLP in 2014 to focus on a variety of matters related to IP portfolio enforcement and business and corporate transactions.
“With her IP management skills and business experience spanning a variety of industries, she will bring great insight to the team,” said Darin Klemchuk, managing partner at Klemchuk LLP, in a press release announcing her hiring.
For the next two years, Gray helped manage the firm’s domestic and international trademark docket, represented midsize to large businesses in transactional and general counsel matters, and built her skill set before moving in-house in 2016.
Now, Gray is associate general counsel at PrimeSource Building Products, one of the largest distributors of building materials in North America. The Irving, Texas–based company has thirty-five distribution centers and 1,200 employees across the United States and the Caribbean. Some of PrimeSource’s key products include nails, collated fasteners, concrete accessories, building accessories, and wire fence products, with distribution centers stocked with a vast array of items geared toward the market they each service.
While she joined the company hoping for a role that was more IP based, Gray has found herself working under dedicated people who encourage her growth and practice areas. She has a bigger platform to engage with colleagues outside of the legal department and the energy to collaborate with business partners.
Her current role has her managing and coordinating in-house and external counsel with governance, regulatory compliance, intellectual property, distribution and strategic partnerships, import sourcing, trade, and other legal matters, not just for the United States but also globally.
Gray’s goal is to streamline the department’s processes, making them more efficient and compliant. She also gets more into the operations side in her role by configuring the contract management platform, something that doesn’t usually happen in the classic general counsel role. One project was the implementation of the legal and compliance operation software platforms, which deals with matter management, contract life-cycle management, and compliance issue management and reporting. She transformed the website to make it easier for customers to understand policies and ask questions.
In 2018, the company awarded Gray the PrimeStar award for outstanding achievement, recognizing her for the implementation of the contract life-cycle management software as well as the creation and implementation of the compliance program.
Her advice to those looking to follow in her footsteps is to listen more than you talk. The most success Gray has found in solving problems is when she understood where someone else was coming from and where it fit into the bigger picture. By building her expertise and being willing to step outside of the typical counsel zone, Gray has become a much more effective in-house counsel.