NEW ORLEANS – Darrel J. Papillion, the 76th president of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA), recently spoke to the Louisiana Bar Journal about his credentials, family and his goals for the LSBA during his one-year his presidency.
“I was one of those people who always wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. “I remember inviting Jacque Pucheu, a lawyer in Eunice, to speak to my class about his work as a lawyer when I was in middle school, but I probably developed a strong interest in being a lawyer several years earlier. Jimmy Simien, a lawyer in Baton Rouge, married one of my cousins while Jimmy was an LSU Law student, and I was not quite in high school. Poor Jimmy probably dreaded family holiday dinners because I peppered him with questions about law school and being a lawyer over every holiday meal for years.”
Papillion studied at Louisiana State University (LSU) at Eunice, LSU A&M in Baton Rouge and LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. After law school, he worked as a law clerk for Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Catherine D. Kimball before joining the New Orleans office of McGlinchey Stafford, P.L.L.C., in 1995. In 1999, he accepted a job as a plaintiff’s lawyer at the Moore, Walters, Thompson firm in Baton Rouge and would later be named partner in that firm before leaving with three of his partners to start the firm of Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, L.L.C.
In the meantime, Papillion said he was always encouraged by firms and colleagues to be actively involved in the LSBA.
Darrel J. Papillion
“I was elected to the House of Delegates almost 15 years ago, and, not long after that, President Larry Feldman appointed me chair of the Ethics Advisory Service,” he said. “I was appointed to the Board of Governors to fill an unexpired term by President Guy DeLaup in 2008. I was later elected to a full term on the Board of Governors. I have also served for a number of years as one of the chairs of the CLE Committee and the Annual Meeting and Summer School Committee, and I have been on the Nominating Committee a few times.”
Papillion has a considerable amount of experience under his belt, and he credits his wife, Shirley, for helping him stay focused. They have been married since 1991, and they have a 15-year old son and a 13 year-old daughter.
“I could not be LSBA president, or much else, without her undying love and support,” he said. “Shirley earned her college degree and a special certification to teach elementary school while I was finishing law school and clerking for the Louisiana Supreme Court. She taught school for 20 years in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and retired last year so we could both spend more time with our two teenage children, son Jude and daughter Anna Claire, before they leave home for college in a few years. Jude and Anna keep us very busy, and Shirley keeps us all in line.”
As for his position at the LSBA for the next year, Papillion said he is looking to streamline operations, evaluate programs and manage resources more prudently.
“I believe every LSBA president approaches the job differently, but we should all remember it is a temporary job, and the year goes by very quickly,” he said. “Next June, there will be a new president. Some presidents launch a bold new agenda and create several new programs. While this is very good, if each new president were to launch several new initiatives each year, we would also need a larger budget and more staff every year.”
Papillion also explained that the LSBA must be accountable, responsive and highly relevant to its core constituents, which include the public, its 22,000-plus members, the Louisiana Supreme Court, Louisiana’s law schools, local bar associations, and the numerous affiliated entities that help serve the public and administer justice.
“The LSBA is an important arm of the Louisiana Supreme Court in the regulation of the practice of law,” he said. “The public is best served when legal services are performed by providers who are properly educated and trained, carefully regulated and licensed, receive appropriate continuing legal education, and who adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct and traditional standards of professionalism.”
Overall, Papillion’s goal, like every president’s goal, is to make sure the LSBA serves citizens of the state well.
“The LSBA is critical to this important goal, and my goal is to work to keep the LSBA focused on this and to help provide equal access to justice for all the citizens of our state,” he said. “I believe that’s enough to keep me, the LSBA board and the bar staff busy over the next year.”