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Working for Mom: Family law holds double meaning for Eileen and Ryan Griffin

BRANDON

Eileen Griffin and her son Ryan believe it was inevitable that they would someday work together.

Nearly 30 years ago, Eileen had built a successful family law practice and soon a family. She was proud of both.

She recalls the day she went into labor with Ryan, her oldest child and recent Florida State graduate, remembering with a giggle that she had a trial before heading to the hospital to give birth.

"I went into labor that day, and he was premature," Eileen said. "The judge called later that day and was reading me his findings from the trial we just had. I was like, 'Judge, I just had a premature baby.'

"So the judge and other lawyer would joke that he was born to practice family law."

Earlier this year, Ryan joined the firm. Although Eileen had a bit of hesitation, wondering what the dynamic would be in the workplace, both feel the process was relatively seamless and inevitable.

"I was saying I wanted to go into law school when I was in seventh grade, so it wasn't really shocking to anyone when I finished with school and joined the firm," Ryan said.

For many people, the prospect of working every day of their adult life can be daunting and filled with concern that the parent-child relationship can blur lines of professionalism. For the Griffins, that's not the case.

"There's definitely a chain of command and she is in charge," Ryan said. "So I will bite my tongue if I ever disagree and if there's a difference of opinion, I can share it and she'll take it into consideration."

With the transition period behind them, the Griffins acknowledge that it's comforting working with one another, and for Ryan, being around a staff that he has essentially grown up around.

"We have a funny little habit, where we'll pass each other in the hallway and we'll make a funny face until the other laughs," Eileen said. "It's a very stressful work environment, and that kind of breaks it up."

Eileen's daughter Rachel, who graduates next May, plans to join the family business following her Florida bar exam.

"The next step after I graduate and pass the bar would be to integrate into the firm as well," Rachel said. "We're all very, very similar people and having advice from my mother and my brother is very beneficial."

Eventually, Eileen hopes to retire and pass the reins to her children along with the firm's other lawyers, Mark Mann and Ashley Sigriest.

"Learning from my mom, Mark and Ashley has been incredible," Ryan said. "It's just worked out really well."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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