Attorney at Law Jacksonville Publisher Tom Brady sat down with Charles D. Griffith to discuss the culture at his firm and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Griffith: I grew up around the world of criminal law, with my father working as a prosecutor in Norfolk, Virginia, and for the most part I always wanted to be a lawyer; although for whatever reason, criminal law never grabbed my attention, even in law school. I knew going into law school that I wanted to forge a path toward a career in corporate or real estate law, and I’ve been fortunate to find myself right in the middle of those practices at an early point in my career. Of course, going into law school, I can’t say I knew the first thing about eminent domain, but I love my practice and wake up eager to work with our clients every day.
AALM:What was the greatest lesson you learned in law school? How do you apply that to your career today?
Griffith: During law school, I pushed myself to show up every day ready to give 110% to the task in front of me, whether that task was preparing for class, practicing for a moot court competition, or working at my clerkship at GrayRobinson. What text books and professors can’t necessarily teach their students is that – while the substance of a legal education is certainly important – the most important skill to take from law school is the ability to work hard and efficiently. In the real world, your bosses and clients expect this from you every day, and law school is the best time to teach yourself the necessary habits for success.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice?
Griffith: As a property rights advocate for landowners, I am tasked with protecting one of the most important and fundamental civil rights guaranteed by our federal and state constitutions. When it comes to eminent domain law in particular, Florida landowners are fortunate, relative to those in many other states, in that our regulators have recognized the need for some of the strongest laws to protect landowners’ rights in the nation, with the right to hire counsel and a team of experts guaranteed as part of the required “full compensation” standard that condemning authorities must pay in order to employ the power of eminent domain. While we certainly respect the government’s ability to acquire property through eminent domain as a necessary process to promote the continued growth of our state and our city, we also view it as an honor to guide our clients through that process to ensure their individual property interests are protected.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? Tell us about your role there.
Griffith: I started at the Jacksonville office of GrayRobinson in 2011 during my second semester of law school as a clerk for the same eminent domain practice that I work in today. I had a unique opportunity to learn about and help develop the business side of our practice from the start of my time here, and after two years in that role, I was offered an associate position coming out of law school. Having seen first-hand the culture of our office, I knew GrayRobinson was a place I wanted to be for a long time.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of the firm?
Griffith: On one hand, GrayRobinson is one of the largest Florida-only law firms, with over 300 attorneys state wide, and our clients enjoy the benefit of having a diverse pool of experience to draw from as we represent their interests. But within that larger culture, day-to-day, my experience in the Jacksonville office is one of a mid-sized firm, with a tremendous collection of personalities and practices that all thrive off of each other. The senior attorneys in our office expect hard work and great results, while also emphasizing a healthy work-life balance. As a result, our office has consistently been rated one of Jacksonville’s best places to work.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Griffith: In early 2016, I really got into running. Before then, I had never been much of a runner, probably never running more than 10 miles over the course of a year since high school. In 2017, I almost hit 900 miles for the year, and I’m aiming for 1,000 miles and a marathon before the end of 2018. More importantly, I love spending time with my wife, Lauren, and our daughters, Ginny, 3, and Maggie, 7 months old. Ginny and Maggie haven’t quite grasped this yet, but we are all big North Carolina Tar Heel basketball fans.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10?
Griffith: Like any young lawyer in private practice, I hope to eventually reach a partner/shareholder level at my firm. For now, I’m much more focused on building our practice and improving as an attorney to continue giving our clients the best representation possible. These are the building blocks for any successful practice. I trust that as long as I continue improving at my job every day, I’ll continue to achieve any personal career goals along the way.