Alais L.M. Griffin
Alais L.M. Griffin

Update: A correction was made to clarify that Alais Griffin previously served as counselor to the general counsel at the U.S. Transportation Department as part of the Obama administration.


Alais L.M. Griffin’s legal career has taken her all over the map — from working in President Barack Obama’s administration to serving as general counsel for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Now, she has brought that range of experience back to Chicago.

Griffin Strategic Law Advisors, which launched in September, was established to use the legal acumen Griffin has developed over her career.

Griffin said she found a niche that has a need in Chicago: providing nonprofits and startups with legal experience normally found at a big law firm that is out of reach to many.

Griffin originally came to Chicago by way of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law after graduating from Harvard University.

“It’s a great city,” Griffin said. “It’s been such a long-standing part of my life.”

After law school, she left for a job in New York, only to be drawn back a few years later to clerk for U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.

Griffin stayed in Chicago until she decided to make, what she’s referred to as “a crazy decision” — to head to Washington, D.C., to serve as counselor to the general counsel at the U.S. Transportation Department as part of the Obama administration.

Griffin said she was excited and inspired by Obama and that the experience of working in his administration was fantastic.

“I really want[ed] to work for this president,” she said.

Griffin was not alone in following the former senator from Illinois to the White House from Chicago.

“There’s a whole group of us that went from Chicago,” she said.

After Washington, Griffin came back to Chicago as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP before moving to Florida to serve as general counsel and chief ethics officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America where she put in place compliance programs for high risk situations.

Griffin has served as a member of the ACLU of Illinois Board of Directors and as a board member of the Chicago Public Interest Law Initiative — among others.

“I now have had a pretty broad range of experience,” Griffin said.

Griffin Strategic Law Advisors is currently a one-woman operation, which Griffin likes for now.

Griffin said she likes the flexibility of working on different tasks and gives her time to spend with her 2-year-old daughter.

In working with startups, Griffin said she plans to blend the excitement of a startup with the legal parameters.