Some of you may know Carl Gray. He was born and raised in Lexington, and practiced law in Davidson County and the surrounding area for more than 40 years before retiring in January 2017. Gray joined Brinkley Walser Stoner during the 2015 merger of Brinkley Walser, PLLC and Stoner, Bowers, Gray & McDonald, P.A.
Gray began his legal career with Stoner Bowers in 1975 after earning his J.D. at the Wake Forest University School of Law. At the time of the merger, he was President and CEO of the firm. Gray is a Certified Superior Court Mediator by the NC Dispute Resolution Commission. He is also a past member and chairman of the Davidson County Planning and Zoning Board.
We recently interviewed Carl to learn more about his legal career and future plans.
Q: Why did you choose the legal profession?
A: I became interested in the law while taking a business law course during my senior year at Catawba College. I applied to Wake Forest and UNC Schools of law and was fortunate to be accepted at both schools. I chose Wake Forest School of Law (J.D. ’75) because I felt it would be an easier transition for me, and I received a partial scholarship that helped to offset the difference in the tuition.
Q: As a general practice attorney, you have handled cases across the board. Do you have a favorite practice area?
A: Real estate has been a large part of my practice, and I have enjoyed working in that area, partly because most transactions did not involve much controversy.
Q; What is the most memorable case you have handled?
A: I represented the parents of a teenager who was killed, along with 3 other teens, while riding in a car that ran under a logging truck at night. The truck had no lights on it and was sitting perpendicular in the road backing into a sawmill yard. I was able to recover a substantial settlement for my clients; however, the monetary settlement did little to alleviate their grief over the loss of a child.
Q: Most cases are settled or litigated in the lower courts. Have you ever had a case tried before the North Carolina Supreme Court?
A: No, but I have made several oral arguments before the N.C. Court of Appeals, one of which involved an improperly constructed chimney in a new home; another involved the improper construction of a swimming pool. I represented the homeowners in the chimney case and the contractor in the swimming pool case. I was fortunate enough to win both.
Q: What is the biggest change you have seen in the legal field over the course of your 40+ years in practice?
A: The legal profession has undergone many changes since I started practice in 1975. One of the most notable is the prevalence of lawyer advertising. Advertising was totally prohibited when I started practice. Now lawyer ads are seen daily on T. V., on billboards, in newspapers and in mailings. Although it appears to be an effective way to attract clients, I personally think it reflects negatively on the profession. Also, I have seen a loss of civility among some members of the bar since I started practice.
Q: Would you encourage today’s students to pursue a legal career?
A: I would not discourage high school or college students from considering the law as a career, but I wouldn’t recommend it as strongly as I once would have.
Q: Do you have any plans for retirement?
A: I have been married for 50 years to my wife, Linda, and we have 2 children and 2 grandchildren, ages 10 and 6. My plans for retirement include spending more time with the grandchildren and taking some extended trips to places I have never been while I am still healthy enough to do so.
Carl has been a tremendous resource for the Brinkley Walser Stoner team. The attorneys and staff at the firm wish Carl and Linda all the best in their retirement.