Melanie Gray is Chair of the Bankruptcy Litigation Practice and partner in the Houston office of Winston & Strawn LLP who concentrates her practice in complex commercial litigation, with a focus on complex bankruptcy cases. She has extensive experience litigating contract and business disputes and serves as a trusted advisor to companies who find themselves facing “bet-the-company” litigation risks or financial distress.
Melanie is best known for managing complex cases requiring diverse teams of lawyers in different practice areas. As one of the lead attorneys representing Enron in its chapter 11 case, she coordinated the multitude of attorneys and firms working for Enron. She was a lead attorney in more than 30 lawsuits seeking to recover more than $1 billion due to the company under various financial derivative contracts. Her experience also extends to managing corporate internal investigations.
Melanie’s client representations include Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Brookfield Power Corporation, General Growth Properties, Lockton Companies, Alliant Insurance Services, Inc., American Airlines, General Electric, General Motors, J.C. Flowers & Co., and Pilgrams.
Melanie has earned multiple recognitions for professional excellence and public service. Recently, she was selected as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America as a result of her exceptional accomplishments in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and superior ethical reputation. In both 2013 and 2014, Benchmark Litigation named her as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation and she is listed in the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers in America in the Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights category. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Alumna Achievement Award from Syracuse University College of Law. In 2010, she was recognized as one of Texas’s Most Powerful Women by Texas Diversity Council. Melanie has been named a Texas Super Lawyer in each year since 2003 and was named one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas in 2005 for her work in business litigation and bankruptcy. In 2003, she was recognized as a Woman Achiever by the New York YMCA and as one of ten Houston Women on the Move by Texas Executive Women in 2001. Litigation Management named her as a “Lone Star All Star” for being among the state’s “effective litigators and communicators with great judgment.”
Leading legal thought, Melanie was involved in a variety of publications such as Litigation in the 21st Century: The Jury Trial, The Training & The Experts – Musings & Teachings from David J. Beck, Lisa Blue, Melanie Gray & Stephen D. Susman and Striking the Right Balance: Public Versus Private Enforcement Laws. She has also served as a speaker across the country, serving at the Association of Corporate Counsel Chapter meeting, the Texas Minority Counsel Meeting, the 60th Anniversary Syracuse L. Rev Symposium, and various Syracuse University College of Law events.
Melanie has served in leadership roles in a number of legal organizations, including serving on the board of the Houston Bar Foundation, the Interdisciplinary Committee on Law and Accounting of the Houston Bar Association, the Texas Accounting and Lawyers for the Arts. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and a life member of the Texas Women Lawyers. She holds membership in other invitation-only organizations, including the American Bar Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, the College of the State Bar of Texas, and Litigation Counsel of America. She has chaired or co-chaired numerous capital campaigns, including the recently concluded $1 billion Campaign for Syracuse University.
Melanie is widely known for her community service and contributions to the arts, education, and the advancement of women and currently serves on the following boards: Syracuse University, Baylor College of Medicine Girls Inc. (Vice Chair), Greater Houston Community Foundation, Society for the Performing Arts (Board Chair), Foundation for Jones Hall Greater Houston Women’s Center, Legacy Community Health Services Endowment, Teen & Family Services.
Melanie began practicing law in 1981 in Chicago, after graduating from Syracuse University College of Law. She is married to Mark Wawro, a practicing attorney and partner with Susman Godfrey LLP, and has three children.