NEW ORLEANS — Darrel J. Papillion, a 1994 graduate of the LSU Law Center and partner in the Baton Rouge law firm of Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, L.L.C., was installed June 9 as the 76th president of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) during the LSBA’s Annual Meeting in Destin, Fla. Administering his oath of office was Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson.
For his one-year term as president, Papillion said his objectives are basic ones. “The LSBA must be accountable, responsive and highly relevant to its core constituents, including 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. That said, I want to streamline our operations, evaluate our programs, and prudently manage our resources in a way that will allow us to effectively fulfill our mission as a mandatory bar association.”
Papillion also believes that “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. My goal is to keep the LSBA focused on this and to help provide equal access to justice for all the citizens of our state.”
Papillion’s focus on service to the community stems from lessons learned early. His role models, he said, include his parents, especially his father. “Even though he was not a lawyer, my father was someone who people in our tiny rural community (of Swords, La.) relied upon for help and advice with the ordinary problems of life. He was an elected member of the St. Landry Parish Police Jury, a deputy sheriff, and was active politically, so it was very common for people having some kind of problem to ask him for help and advice. I saw this as a young person, and I believe it made me want to be a lawyer.”
Staying focused and involved in LSBA programs and projects for several years has given Papillion a solid foundation to move the legal profession in Louisiana forward. But he likes what he sees now in many respects.
“I believe opportunities for lawyers have, in many ways, dramatically improved over the past 20, and certainly 75, years,” he said, referencing the LSBA’s 75th anniversary this year. “Many more women and minorities have been elected and appointed to the judiciary and have risen to leadership positions in law firms and in the legal profession. Today, men and women are entering the legal profession in almost equal numbers, so opportunity has certainly increased over the past 75 years for people who once had very little opportunity.”
Papillion received a bachelor of arts degree in 1990 from Louisiana State University and his Juris Doctor degree in 1994 from LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. He was admitted to practice law in Louisiana in 1994.
He is a longstanding member of the LSU Law Alumni Board of Trustees and Chancellor’s Council and also served as chair of the Law Center Diversity Task Force.
He served as 2015-16 LSBA president-elect and served two terms on the LSBA’s Board of Governors as the Fifth District representative and as an at-large member. He co-chaired the LSBA’s Continuing Legal Education Committee (2009-16), chaired the Ethics Advisory Service Committee (2002-04) and was a member of the Federal Bench-Bar Liaison Committee (2000-06). He also served several terms in the LSBA House of Delegates. He received the 2005 LSBA Young Lawyers Section’s Hon. Michaelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award.
He is a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Bar Foundation (2009-present). He was a member of the U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana Magistrate Selection Committee in 2013 and served as 2013-14 president of the Baton Rouge Bar Association.
He also is a mediator with the Perry Dampf Dispute Solutions Mediation Group and has been appointed as a Special Master in complex litigation.
He is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and was recognized by Louisiana Super Lawyers (2008-present), Best Lawyers in America (2015-present) and the Baton Rouge Business Report’s Top 40 Under 40 (2006).
In his community, he was the 2013-14 president of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. He also served on several boards, including Teach for America and the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Foundation.
The Louisiana State Bar Association assists its more than 22,000 members in the practice of law. The statewide association, as part of its multi-faceted mission, promotes and maintains access to justice initiatives for the state’s residents, assists the Louisiana Supreme Court in its regulation of the practice of law, upholds the honor of the courts and the profession, and supports programs that increase public understanding of and respect for the law.