Reflecting on her early days at the law firm she’s been affiliated with for 41 years, Melody Gregory recalls that after graduating high school from Newburgh Free Academy, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and thought law might be something to try.”
She took a chance, joined Finkelstein & Partners as a case manager in 1977, and loved it. “I started at the bottom and worked my way up.”
Along with the responsibilities of her full-time job, Gregory, a single mom with two girls, also put herself through SUNY Albany. And one day, after two decades at the firm, she got a huge surprise. Finkelstein & Partners offered to pay her way through law school as their first-ever scholarship recipient.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
“My parents taught me: Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Nobody is better than anybody else, and everyone is equal.”
Delighted and determined to succeed, she kept working full time and commuted to Springfield, MA, three nights a week for four years to get her juris doctorate degree from the Western New England College School of Law. “It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it,” she says.
Gregory, who was born and raised in Newburgh, specializes in personal injury cases at the firm’s Town of Newburgh office and often represents disabled veterans. “It’s very rewarding to help others in need,” she says. She also serves on the board of the Newburgh Armory and is committed to giving back to the community. She does so through various organizations such as Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and Habitat for Humanity, as well as fundraising efforts for local animal shelters. “I am also proud to support the Town of Newburgh’s K9 Unit.” She adds: “I think that for law, or anything else, you need three traits — common sense, compassion, and a willingness to extend yourself.”