Three Questions with Bill Griffith
1. Tell us about something that has shaped your career?
I was a news reporter in Duluth before I started law school. I learned to ask tough questions, get multiple perspectives on an issue and remain objective when seeking information. It also helped me communicate in a way that people usually understand what I’m trying to say. Since my early days as a reporter, the main focus of my career has been on local government and how it affects business and people each and every day.
2. What do you enjoy most about your work?
The art of legal practice is problem-solving for people with real-world problems. It’s not about quoting the law or impressing clients with the depth of your knowledge. Clients come to me to fix something that is broken or to secure an opportunity at a reasonable cost. They should walk out of my office feeling a little easier because they now have a path to get where they wanted to go in the first place.
3. What unique past experience do you offer your clients?
At this point in my career, I draw on lots of great experiences working with a wide variety of clients, including individuals, businesses, developers, cities, churches and nonprofits. If I don’t know the answer, I usually know someone who does. It’s really satisfying to connect people or resolve differences in ways that both sides gain something.
For a long time, I have seen my primary role as a lawyer is to solve problems for people. Yet, it’s also a great place from which to engage with the community, whether it’s building a house for Habitat for Humanity, serving on a church committee, starting a charter school, or representing immigrants to our country. As lawyers, we sit between government, institutions, and people. They often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the world in which we all live; we can offer a little bit of comfort by way of advice and service, and sometimes we don’t have to charge for it.
For three decades, Bill Griffith has advised local and national clients on legal and policy issues affecting land use, zoning, real estate, environmental review, municipal law, regulatory matters and government relations. He has been legal counsel to Mall of America in all its phases and serves as city attorney for the city of Columbus. He is a trusted advisor on real estate development and public funding for both private clients and municipalities.