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Salisbury attorney Darrin Jordan will become NC Bar president, first from Rowan to hold title

SALISBURY — Salisbury attorney Darrin Jordan will begin his term tonight as president of the North Carolina State Bar, becoming the first Rowan County lawyer to hold the position.

Jordan, a partner at Whitley Jordan & Inge PA, will be joined by his wife and children as he’s sworn in during a ceremony officiated by Chief Justice Paul Newby at the State Bar’s annual meeting and dinner in Raleigh. It will be Newby’s first time officiating the oath of office for the State Bar president.

“I’m having a hard time balancing accepting the fact that they’re allowing me to represent the state of North Carolina as the Bar president, yet it’s just me,” Jordan said. “I’m just me — a kid from Salisbury who grew up on North Church Street. I wasn’t over in the country club. I was a block off of Main Street. It’s a humbling experience. I’m honored to be able to do this.”

Jordan served as vice president and president-elect of the North Carolina State Bar the previous two years. Before then, he represented Rowan County’s judicial district as a State Bar councilor for nine years. The State Bar is a government agency responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in North Carolina.

“Our mission at the State Bar is essentially to protect the public from the unauthorized practice of law and to punish lawyers who violate the professional rules of conduct,” Jordan said. “That’s our mission and that’s what I hope we continue to do.”

The State Bar was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1933. Jordan will serve as the organization’s 87th president and will be its first president who has practiced solely in Rowan County. 

“The lawyers in this judicial district who have come up to me are just celebrating the fact there’s an attorney from Rowan County who is becoming State Bar president,” Jordan said.

Jordan was born in Salisbury and graduated from Salisbury High School in 1983. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and accounting from Catawba College in 1987 and graduated from Campbell University School of Law in 1990.

After law school, Jordan worked in Wilmington for three years with the Peters and Register law firm before moving back closer to home. Jordan then worked as an assistant district attorney in Cabarrus and Rowan counties for six years before becoming a private attorney. He was certified as a criminal law specialist in 2004 and primarily works in criminal defense, traffic law and personal injury law. Jordan received the Professor John Robin Award for Extraordinary Contributions Defense Training Programs in 2012.

Jordan will soon retire from the N.C. Indigent Defense Services Commission. He has been chair of the commission for the previous two years and has been on the commission for seven years.

In addition to his professional career, Jordan has previously served on the boards of Rowan Helping Ministries and the Elizabeth Hanford Dole Red Cross Chapter. He was also a Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 254.

​​Jordan said his State Bar presidency will be unique because he is not from one of the state’s larger jurisdictions.

“I’m a small-town lawyer in a small law firm, where the vast majority of the attorneys who have been State Bar presidents have come from large judicial districts like Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro,” Jordan said.

Jordan said he’s also different from past presidents because he is a full-time criminal defense attorney.

“There hasn’t been an attorney who does the type of work I do and when I say that it’s criminal defense where I go from district court to superior court handling cases on a day-to-day basis,” Jordan said. “There hasn’t been anybody like that in a long, long time.”

With his yearlong term starting today, Jordan already has his sights set on what he hopes to accomplish. At the top of his priority list is ensuring people involved in civil litigation have sufficient access to legal justice.

“The State Bar has taken a very serious look at how we can make access to justice more affordable and how we can promote that so that people who don’t necessarily have the means to go out to get legal representation can still get justice in our court system,” Jordan said.

Jordan said the State Bar plans to create a “regulatory sandbox” in which state legislators temporarily suspend certain regulations pertaining to lawyers to allow new policies to be tested. One of those policies could be giving paralegals (professionals trained to assist lawyers) a limited ability to practice law under strict rules and circumstances. Those paralegals, Jordan said, could help fill deficiencies in the justice system for low-income individuals.

Jordan said he would also like to help complete efforts to update language in the State Bar’s preamble and rules of professional conduct to deter discrimination and reflect the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We’ve had several subcommittees for varying things over the course of the last year studying things like putting in our preamble language that would instruct attorneys that they shouldn’t discriminate,” Jordan said. “We all know that’s what we shouldn’t do, but we wonder as an agency, as a body, as an organization, whether we shouldn’t put something in our organization preamble to remind lawyers that this is a social issue we need to think about.”

After serving his presidential term, Jordan will remain an officer with the State Bar as past-president. When that role is concluded, Jordan will have served in some capacity with the State Bar for 14 years. 

Jordan lives near Kannapolis with his family. He enjoys fly fishing, gardening and raising honeybees.

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