Collaboration Thought Leaders – The Advocate: Mary-Caitlin Ray

Collaboration Thought Leaders – The Advocate: Mary-Caitlin Ray

Mary-Caitlin Ray, Aviation/Business Aviation Lawyer, Crowell & Moring

Attorney Mary-Catlin Ray’s tackle collaboration is unabashed: “Collaboration in and between authorities, legislation corporations, firms and people will guarantee success within the aviation {industry}.”

She ought to know. Prior to becoming a member of Crowell & Moring, a global legislation agency with greater than 500 attorneys, Ray served within the FAA’s Office of the Chief Counsel. There, she offered industrial and litigation threat recommendation on NextGen and UAS procurements. As lead procurement counsel, Ray partnered with the DHS, DOJ, DOD, DOT and Congress to roll out the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) analysis and growth effort. She helped meld divergent stakeholder pursuits, coverage priorities and authorized necessities right into a viable initiative that, amongst different accomplishments, produced the nation’s first “drone airways” in 2019.

Ray famous the necessity to perceive the vocabulary and perspective of potential collaborators. “The Federal Aviation Administration speaks a really particular language,” she mentioned. “As they roll out new laws, will probably be essential that aviation operators and producers participating with the FAA ‘communicate’ to the company utilizing its phrases. Quite a few non-intuitive FAA processes and guidelines will proceed to be a problem, particularly to firms new to the {industry}.”

Ray is aware of the lingo. Having earned a stable popularity as an aviation legislation and coverage professional, she now routinely solves the complicated points that come up in integrating new applied sciences, together with unmanned and electrical vertical takeoff and touchdown (eVTOL) plane, into non-public enterprise fashions.

“Bringing all the suitable folks to the desk makes a distinction,” Ray suggested. Recently, she gathered a crew of legal professionals with experience in aviation laws, merchandise legal responsibility and industrial authorized issues, coupled with an outdoor aviation technical material professional on design and engineering, to reply novel, extremely technical questions for an eVTOL consumer. “This small however mighty crew guided the consumer by assessing threat on teaming preparations,” Ray mentioned, “making long-term selections on its product growth trajectory and in the end bringing its ideas to fruition.”


Ray additionally famous how technology-based and industry-based commonalities transcend historically stove-piped areas of legislation. A key member of Crowell’s Aviation Group, she attracts on the power of the agency’s cross-cutting Digital Transformation and Transportation Groups. Attorneys with practices and purchasers in well being care, privateness and cyber safety, authorities contracts, torts (private damage) and aviation come collectively to deal with their purchasers’ hardest challenges.

This inner, multidisciplinary assume tank method, value emulating extra broadly, offers a one-stop store for a specific consumer’s authorized wants. Previously unrelated industries in aviation, equivalent to UAS and eVTOL, expertise related development patterns on the transactional facet and the identical regulatory roadblocks on the state and federal degree. With this convergence, it’s essential for advisors to have the ability to “issue-spot.” Identifying {that a} consumer with an aviation regulatory concern may additionally want to deal with cybersecurity or product legal responsibility points offers tangible advantages to them.

The COVID pandemic solely magnified the worth of those collaborative relationships. When a consumer confronted discontinuation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act payroll funding, with authorities submitting deadlines imminent, Ray tapped into Crowell’s Coronavirus Resource Center to discover a labor and employment legislation lawyer to complement her Treasury regulatory expertise. “When each items of that puzzle got here collectively, nearly immediately, we had been in a position to assist the consumer make the submitting on time, enabling them to proceed receiving funds which can be essential to their aviation enterprise,” she defined.

Ray’s evaluation: “Building and sustaining private connections, participating various viewpoints and understanding widespread objectives will transfer this {industry} ahead.”