Darrin Williams Serves Call of Public Service as Lawyer, Banker, Politician

Darrin Williams Serves Call of Public Service as Lawyer, Banker, Politician
Rep. Darrin Williams, House District 36 (Jason Burt)

Arkansas Business 20th Annual 40 Under Forty
The original Class of 2000 profiles
2013 Updates from this week's digital edition of Arkansas Business.

Darrin Williams has a number of titles: state representative, lawyer, CEO and church deacon. But in many ways, Williams said, the work he does is all the same.

Williams, 44, was a member of the Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2000. He went on to serve as chief of staff for then-Arkansas Attorney General (and current U.S. senator) Mark Pryor. These days Williams represents District 36 (he first ran in 2008) in the Arkansas General Assembly.

“I’ve been able to see firsthand how public servants help people,” said Williams.

Influenced by his parents, Williams, 44, has made helping people his objective since he entered politics.

“Your name is on the ballot. You’re the person people call,” Williams said.

Williams has spent all of his professional life involved in some aspect of public service, beginning as a teenaged appointee, by then-Gov. Bill Clinton, to a school consolidation board.

He interned for former Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen and former U.S. Sen. David Pryor. During the Clinton presidency Williams was a deputy director with the Democratic National Committee, then worked as Mark Pryor’s chief of staff and as Arkansas deputy attorney general before deciding to run for office himself.

“I jokingly say my first election and maybe most impressive election was when I was elected student body president at Little Rock Central High School in 1986,” Williams said. “It’s all been downhill from there.”

Williams graduated from Hendrix College in Conway and got his law degree from Vanderbilt University and a master’s of law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He is a partner at Carney Williams Bates Pulliam & Bowman PLLC and has been CEO of Southern Bancorp since February, but couldn’t assume his duties full time until after the legislative session closed in late April.

“I’m going from suing banks to running banks,” said Williams, who as a lawyer worked on consumer protection litigation, among other things.

His bank work often involves helping underserved communities, while at church Williams teaches a financial principles class. It’s all about being of assistance, he said. “That’s why I’ve done this, to help people,” Williams said.