Katie M. Gray, 28
Associate, Verrill Dana LLP
Katie Gray doesn’t pay an electric or a heating bill – they are included in her rent. But she is one of the most knowledgeable women in southern Maine when it comes to energy-related issues.
Gray, 28, is an associate with Verrill Dana, a law firm in Portland. As part of its energy group, she spends much of her time walking clients through the complicated laws and regulations pertaining to energy use, including environmental regulations and gas safety issues.
An area in which she has had a significant impact is her work on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues. Attorneys in her firm regularly turn to her when they have questions on FERC compliance, procedure and other issues.
“We continue to build on our expertise and get questions from clients on complex FERC issues -– even this morning, in fact,” she says. “So, this is a legal area in which I would consider myself an ‘emerging leader,’ although, it is still fairly early in my career, so the emphasis is on emerging.”
Another, perhaps more subtle, impact that Gray has had is in cracking open the hearing room doors to women. Gray often finds herself the lone woman – and the youngest person – in regulatory hearing rooms as she represents the interests of her clients. At her last hearing, there were 12 people in the room – all of them men except for her.
While she was “a little intimidated” when she started her job, she has gained the respect of her peers by studying how other attorneys present themselves and adapting her style to fit the situation.
“Based on my success, I’ve gained confidence,” she says. “I have a level-headed, calm style. I don’t get overly aggressive in tone, even when I’m trying to get someone to say something they don’t want to say.”
Gray grew up in Lewiston and graduated from the University of Maine and Boston University School of Law. She has been an associate with Verrill Dana for three years. Her job might demand her to be a policy wonk by day, but she is a well-rounded individual who serves on the firm’s wellness committee and has a soft spot in her heart for the local arts community. She writes poetry and volunteers at Space Gallery in Portland when her schedule allows.
“You put on a different hat for contentious cases,” she says. “It’s nice to have your brain shift gears.”
– Joanne Lannin