John S. Willardson of Willardson Law Firm in Wilkesboro, NC, is the 2016 recipient of NC Association of Defense Attorneys highest award. The J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence recognizes NCADA members who exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and ethics and who conducts themselves in a civil, courteous manner with all persons. The recipient must exemplify sustained excellent service to individual and corporate defendants in civil litigation, to the Bar and to the community.
Willardson, an NCADA member since 1984, served as President from 2000 to 2001 after more than a decade of active service as a leader in the Association. At the national level, Willardson served as NC’s State Representative to DRI, the voice of the defense bar, from 2004 to 2007, and then on DRI’s Board of Directors as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director from 2007 to 2010. Other professional activities include:
- North Carolina State Bar Councilor for the 23rd District (current);
- Member of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism;
- Member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Council and the Committee for the Independence of the Judiciary;
- Recipient of NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award in 2015;
- Immediate Past President of the 23rd Judicial District Bar;
- Past President of the UNC Law Alumni Association;
- Past President of the Wilkes County Bar Association.
Additionally, Willardson is a tireless volunteer in his community. In 2010, he was inducted into the YMCA’s Red Triangle Society by the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. Induction into the Red Triangle Society is the highest honor a Y volunteer can receive. Recipients demonstrate long-term and significant commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to the Y’s mission. Other community service activities include:
- Chair of the Wilkes Family YMCA Board of Managers;
- Chair of the Wilkes Family YMCA Annual Giving Campaign and served as a member on the Bandits Triathlon Committee, Board Development Committee, Finance Committee and Membership Committee;
- Chaired the Merlefest Committee and worked as an event volunteer running the concession stand;
- Board member for the North Wilkesboro Kiwanis Club, Wilkes Adult Developmental Activity Programs Inc., Hospice, Wilkes Art Gallery, Wilkes Babe Ruth League baseball and Wilkes Flying Club.
Willardson is a native of Santa Monica, California and has lived and practiced in Wilkesboro, North Carolina for over 35 years after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he completed a double major in Spanish and political science. He served in the Army before attending UNC Law School where he obtained his J.D. in 1972.
John Willardson is a true leader in the law and a servant leader in his community.
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) is a professional organization of nearly 900 attorneys and paralegals who devote a majority of their time representing the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. Visit us at www.ncada.org.