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Timothy Griffin
Timothy Griffin and Stinson partner Andrew Davis received 2021 Excellence Awards from the Hennepin County Bar Association for advancing diversity and inclusion. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Transgender-rights win ‘among most rewarding’ cases

Name: Timothy Griffin

Title: Partner, Stinson

Education: B.S., international relations and political science, University of Wisconsin-Madison; J.D., Hamline University School of Law

For Stinson partner Timothy Griffin, winning a Minnesota Court of Appeals case affirming rights of transgender students is “probably the most rewarding case personally and professionally” of his career.

Griffin and Stinson partner Andrew Davis received 2021 Excellence Awards from the Hennepin County Bar Association for advancing diversity and inclusion in leading a Stinson team that partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and Gender Justice on behalf of a transgender student’s right to use a locker room aligning with his gender identity. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights also intervened.

“We were able to get an appellate ruling without having to go through discovery and re-traumatize our client,” Griffin said. “The plan worked really well, and in litigation that rarely happens.”

Griffin’s pro bono service focuses on constitutional issues, largely as an ACLU volunteer. In his practice, Griffin defends financial services companies and represents medical device and off-road vehicle manufacturers in products liability matters.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Share an experience or a problem. I’ll bite.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: The frank answer is I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do at the time. I was managing a bar and I was looking to create professional opportunities. I knew that a law degree would open up opportunities that an undergraduate degree would not. I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of lawyer I wanted to be until I clerked for a federal judge after law school and saw firsthand the courtroom environment and had the confidence as a result of that that I could succeed there. I clerked for a judge that was appointed the year I was born, so one of the best parts of that experience was having a relationship with somebody of that generation. I had not had a relationship with my grandparents so that was an important part of my development.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: I’ve got a list for summer. I want to read “Ready Player Two.” “Ready Player One” was super fun so I’m looking to pick that up. I’ve promised myself I’m going to read “Creation,” Gore Vidal’s crash course in comparative religion.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: Poor listening skills.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: The opportunity to dive deep into a problem and develop a strategy to solve it. The pride that comes from providing good service.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Anything outdoors, with tangible results. Yard work is probably at the top of the list. I picked up pickleball during the pandemic. It’s kind of a new addiction.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: It depends on the person but walk, bike or canoe the lakes, Cedar, Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and eat in Uptown. A nice way to see a beautiful part of the city.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Alan Page. His level of excellence spanning a wide array of activities. He’s familiar to generations of Minnesota: My father watching him play for the Vikings. My son, who fondly recalls him visiting his school and reading his book. His time on the Supreme Court as the first African American justice in Minnesota and his efforts to improve education.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: My non-lawyer friends often think I know the answer to their legal questions off the top of my head. I think what they don’t appreciate is the practice of law involves exploring an array of issues and varying shades of gray and rarely is the answer absolute.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: I started watching “Billions” and really enjoy Paul Giamatti’s character. He’s a U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York taking on the financial services industry. The dialogue and the characters are fantastic.

 

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