When Yvonne Griffin is not fighting for her clients in the courtroom, she is fighting to empower other women in the legal profession.
“She’s done a lot for the field of law in Virginia. She’s done a lot for women,” said Mike Griffin, Griffin’s husband of 31 years.
Yvonne Griffin was made a partner at Tucker Griffin Barnes, P.C. in 1997. Mike Griffin works as the firm’s business manager.
“She’s really been a great mentor to the women coming through the firm. She always takes the young attorneys under her wing,” he said.
Of the seven partners at Tucker Griffin Barnes, only one, founding partner Bill Tucker, is male. Tucker said this fact is due largely to Griffin’s influence.
Together, he and Griffin founded the Women’s Legal Group at their firm, which provides legal counsel “from a woman’s point of view.”
“A woman lawyer sometimes has a different perspective,” Tucker said. “We [men] don’t have feelings, but a woman does. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing in the law.”
Sometimes, Griffin noted, clients are drawn to Tucker Griffin Barnes because they are seeking a female attorney.
“When you run your own business, you are constantly looking for ways to differentiate yourself,” Griffin said. “I’ve had men who’ve hired me who have said ‘women are meaner than men,’” she added.
Griffin is known to be an “aggressive advocate” for her clients, Lynn Bradley, another partner at Tucker Griffin Barnes, said, but outside of the courtroom she said Griffin is very even-tempered and approachable.
“She’s never too busy to answer a question. I think everyone feels comfortable knocking on her door,” Bradley said. “I think she’s a really good mentor for attorneys whether they are male or female.”
Griffin is active in legal organizations that serve men and women alike. She serves on the governing board for the Virginia Trial Lawyers. In the past she has been a member of the American Bar Association, the Thomas Jefferson Inn of Courts and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
Though Griffin is a successful full-time lawyer, it is hard to find a more dedicated wife and mother.
Even with a lengthy list of college degrees, personal achievements and community involvement, she lists her marriage and son, Sam, 20, as her proudest accomplishments.
Perhaps that is why Griffin is such a strong advocate for other women who are juggling their professional lives with their responsibilities at home.
Together with Tucker, Griffin started the Bring Your Babies to Work program at their firm nearly two decades ago.
After one of Tucker’s paralegals became pregnant, the firm was faced with the possibility of losing a strong member of their legal team.
“We decided we would rather have her at 80 percent capacity than at zero percent capacity,” Yvonne Griffin explained, and so the firm began to allow mothers to bring their infants to work with them every day, rather than spending money on costly child care in the first weeks of life.
This allows mothers to spend more time with their children, but also brings them back into the workforce sooner after giving birth, even if they may be a bit distracted.
“It’s important for babies and mamas to bond,” Griffin said. “It’s been a good thing all the way around.”
Though Griffin did not enact this company policy single-handedly, she was instrumental in making it “more than words on a page,” Bradley said. She added that Griffin went out of her way to make women feel comfortable with the unusual policy, and encouraged them to bring their children to work.
When Bradley was an associate with Tucker Griffin Barnes she became pregnant with her daughter. The firm allowed her to work part-time — as little as two days per week — so that she could spend more time with her child.
“As a lawyer, that’s practically unheard of,” she said. As her daughter got older, Bradley added more and more time to her workload before coming back full-time after her daughter started kindergarten.
“They didn’t penalize me in any way when I came back,” she said. In fact, the firm welcomed Bradley as a partner just one year later.
Griffin said she knew she wanted to be a lawyer as early as the fifth grade, and has been practicing law since graduating from the College of William & Mary’s law school in 1988. For the past 18 years, she has served exclusively as a personal injury lawyer. Her caseload deals with car wrecks, wrongful death and medical malpractice.
“I enjoy helping people who need help,” she said. “It’s one of the paramount reasons I’m a lawyer.”
Griffin’s caring and generous spirit is evident outside of the office, as well. She is involved with the Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where she served as vice president from 2004 to 2005 and secretary in 2006.
“Being a part of the community where you practice is also very important. I like doing things that make the community a better place,” Griffin said.
Griffin’s husband noted her involvement with efforts such as the Toy Lift and Buford Middle School’s Rule of Law Day.
In 2000, Griffin and her law partners put on the area’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
“There just wasn’t another organization that would or could take the necessary steps to make this important and historic event happen,” Mike Griffin said, adding that Yvonne was involved in the production of the fireworks show for several more years.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Griffin is humble and grateful to her coworkers at Tucker Griffin Barnes for their expertise and dedication to the legal field.
“I’m proud of the firm [Tucker and I] built. In 20 or 21 years, we have built a really good law firm with a good reputation,” she said. “It’s gratifying to have started something that is doing so much good for people.”
Yvonne T. Griffin
Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.