Adrienne Griffis winds down tenure as PCBA president

April 1-7, 2024

By Jay Edwards


As the May Annual Meeting of the Pulaski County Bar Association approaches, we sat down with the board’s president, Adrienne Griffis, who besides being a partner with the firm of Kamps and Griffis, is also a part time prosecutor for Pulaski County District Attorney Will Jones. 


Griffis says it is common in smaller counties around the state to have part-time prosecutors and public defenders who have a regular and steady caseload in that capacity, in addition to handling the duties required in their own law practice. After Covid, in Pulaski County, there was soon a backlog of cases, and the office looked for outside help. 


“They received money to clear the COVID backlog,” Griffis says. “I have a temporary contract with them.”


At her firm, Griffis specializes in family law, which includes domestic relations litigation, child custody cases, guardianships, probate and estates, and civil litigation.   


She admits family law can be challenging at times for clients. 


“They can be very emotional,” she says. They aren’t living their best life usually at that time. The law has changed dramatically, as far as child custody goes, in the past few years. When I started practicing in 2012, it was more likely that one parent would get primary custody and the other parent would get visitation. But now it has basically done a 180 and they are most always going to get joint custody.” 


“Sometimes it’s a hard pill for clients to swallow. No one wants to see their child half the time. It can be hard because it requires a lot more co-parenting and getting along.” 


After graduating from high school in Michigan in 2004, Griffis moved to Arkansas to be closer to her mom who lived in Ashdown. She enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where she earned a degree in public relations.


“I had a job throughout college working for my uncle who is a market research analyst,” Griffis says. “I worked for him as basically an editor, during the summer and while I went to college. He actually lived in Austin. He was remote before everyone else was remote. He gave me some good advice because I was going to graduate in 2008, when the economy tanked. He told me I should probably think about getting a graduate degree, an MBA or go to law school, because it was difficult finding a job at that time. I thought that was a good idea. Business school sounded boring to me so I picked law school.”


She moved to Waco and began her studies at Baylor Law School, which she says she loved.


“I thought I would be good at it because I like to talk and I like to argue,” she says through a smile. “Or that’s what my family says.” 


As for her own family, Griffis met her husband Blake when they were at UCA. 


“My husband is from here. He did not move to Texas. For some reason people from here don’t like Texas.” 


We told her it has to do with the Razorbacks and Longhorns.


“Yes, right!” she agreed. “He is from Benton. Well from Lonsdale. Close to Benton. There is a lot more going on there than when he was there in high school. I am not a live in the country kind of person. I don’t want to drive 30 minutes to get anywhere.” 


“He is an environmental scientist for FTN, which is a consulting firm. They do water quality analysis and other environmental things. He loves it. It is completely different than being a lawyer. We talk about things and it goes over my head. Science was never my thing.” 


The couple has two children, Evan, who is four, and Avery, 18 months.


Griffis says she got involved in the PCBA because she enjoys being involved in social extracurricular activities. 


While membership in the PCBA is not as high as in past years, Griffis is hopeful that will improve through reduced rate memberships for younger attorneys, as well as efforts to get them more involved. 


On the subject of young lawyers, we asked what advice she had for someone who was thinking about joining the field.


“If they are trying to decide if they even want to be a lawyer, I’d tell them to seek out experiences where you can see lawyers in action,” she says. “Shadow attorneys, and if they’re interested in litigation, go and watch some trials. See if you can get an internship or externship working at a law firm. Law school will teach you the law and its background but most of the time it won’t teach you how to be a lawyer. Practical experience is what you need. That is why I really liked Baylor. Their focus was on practical experience. We had to do tons of mock trials and our professors were good about real world advice. This is how you take information and use it.” 


“The PCBA this year has done a couple of things to help students figure out if they want to become a lawyer. At the law school we have a shadow program with a PCBA division. Next month we will have students shadow lawyers. We pair students up with lawyers who practice in the area the students think they are interested in. I think it is very helpful because the student who thinks they may be interested in one area, but then after spending some real time in the area, decides it wasn’t for them after all. Best to figure that out before you get a job. Saves you some time.” 


“We have also partnered with Mills High School, which is called Mills University Studies, which is through the Academies of Central Arkansas Initiatives. We go in and talk to them about legal careers. We also hope to put on a mock trial for them to watch.”


Other good ways to gain experience she says is with the prosecuting attorney’s office, either after you graduate, or even as a clerk while you’re still in school. “As a clerk they are in the complaints department,” she says, “so they would gain good experience for interacting with the public.”


In their time off she says she and Blake like to take the kids and their two dogs, the miniature dachshunds, on trips. 


“We like to travel, she says. It is hard right now with the ages of the kids. We like to go to the lake. We usually go to Lake Hamilton.” 


Griffis also enjoys podcasts and true crime shows.


“The BBC has a lot of good stuff,” she says. “I have had to go to audiobooks and podcast now because with the kids I don’t have as much time to read. I prefer a physical book but I just don’t have the time.”


“I would also love to write a book. That is a goal I have in life.”  


We look forward to reading it someday Adrienne.  


Photo Captions:




2. Adrienne with her children, Evan and Avery

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