A Tribute to Don Griffis: Celebrating 50 Years of Dedication to the Legal Profession and Service to the San Angelo Community

January 18, 2019 | Attorney News

For nearly two decades, including time as Managing Partner of the San Angelo office and as Chair of the San Angelo Litigation Practice Group, Don Griffis served the Jackson Walker Leadership Team and the San Angelo office with dedication, compassion, and a strong dose of professionalism topped with a unique laugh and a donnish sense of humor. Don mentored many young trial lawyers, fostering their professional development and showing them by teaching and by example that courtesy and preparation are the keys to success. In honor of his retirement, we pay tribute to an outstanding litigator, a consummate gentleman, and a dedicated servant of the legal profession and the San Angelo community.

Jackson Walker Don GriffisDon earned the respect of clients, attorneys, and judges alike as a uniquely skilled and insightful litigator with a deep understanding of the law who was both dedicated to the practice and development of the legal profession and a fierce advocate for his clients. Widely admired for his enduring courtesy and respect for his adversaries as well as his cohorts, Don often offered his legal skills in service of those in need, stepping in to prevent someone from being neglected or exploited and speaking on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves.

Don practiced law for more than 40 years in West Texas, joining Jackson Walker’s San Angelo office in 1999 when the firm merged with Small, Craig & Werkenthin. Prior to private practice, Don served in Vietnam as both a Staff Legal Officer and as an Infantry Officer before being assigned to teach military law at the Marine Corps Basic School, Quantico, Virginia. He then served as a law clerk to Honorable Joe E. Estes, United States District Judge, in Dallas before building a coveted career as a trial lawyer.

An ace litigator, Don’s trial court experience spanned several areas of the law, including wills and trusts, commercial litigation, general business, insurance, eminent domain, healthcare, and personal injury. He is a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Don is also a Certified Mediator and is Certified by the State Bar of Texas Board of Legal Specialization for personal injury law and civil law.

An active member of the Texas Bar Association and the Tom Green County Bar Association, Don served as Chairman of the District 15A-2 Grievance Committee and is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. In addition to his contributions to the legal community, Don is a generous contributor to the great community of San Angelo. He has held leadership positions in countless organizations over the years, including serving two terms on the San Angelo City Council and as President of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. He has also served as president of the YMCA, president of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council for Concho Valley, and Senior Vestryman of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard. He was awarded the Jefferson Award by the San Angelo Standard-Times and has been named Citizen of the Year and Civic Leader of the Year by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.

One of Don’s greatest passions is the Boy Scouts of America. He has served as a Scout Master for more than 20 years, leading over 60 young men to achieve the prestigious Eagle rank. He also served as the President of the Concho Valley Boy Scout Council. The BSA Texas Southwest Council has awarded Don the Outstanding Citizen Award.

When asked what’s next, Don shared with us that he is looking forward to more time with his lovely wife of 43 years, Prissy Griffis, and their four children and four grandchildren. In addition to dedicating more time to his beloved Boy Scouts, Don is looking forward to becoming more involved with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council. He is excited that time will allow more traveling to visit friends and family and has several reunions planned with the Marines he commanded in Vietnam to honor them and their service to our country. His two Golden Retrievers plan to help keep him in fighting shape with their daily excursions. Don stresses the importance of giving back to others, now perhaps more than ever. He is truly delighted for this opportunity to find new ways to serve and enjoy his family, church, and community.

Don Griffis leaves behind an enduring legacy of wisdom. He taught others to see the practice of law as a privilege and to devote themselves not only to excellence in the practice but also to exemplifying the true nature of a helping profession. Ever the optimist, Don was known for three enduring truths – never give up hope, always stay busy, and remember that there is no one who is not worth some measure of your time or compassion. While we are sad to see him leave our ranks, we know his legacy will live on in our firm and in the San Angelo legal community. We are deeply grateful to Don for all he has done for Jackson Walker and wish him abundant health, great joy, and a multitude of memorable moments.