Clayton lawyer David Ford vies for Johnston County clerk of court

04/14/2014 10:50 AM

04/14/2014 10:51 AM

On an office door at 442-B E. Main St. in Clayton, white letters spell “The Ford Firm, PLLC.” That’s where attorney David Ford handles dozens of cases each month in real estate, election law and small- business matters.

But Ford hopes to become Johnston County’s next clerk of court because he sees the position as a way for him “to serve the people in the most meaningful way possible.”

“I’m passionate about this position because it’s an opportunity to serve my community,” Ford said, adding that he is “uniquely qualified” for the post.

The Charlotte native grew up in Georgia and Tennessee, where he earned a business degree from the University of Memphis in 1996. For the next four years, he worked in consumer finance and branch management for Wells Fargo, moving offices five times in four years because of promotions.

“I was probably one of the youngest managers for Wells Fargo at the time,” Ford said. He has fond memories of his time there. “To be 25 and have a $6 million office, five employees, 2,500 customers, is pretty cool,” he said.

In 2001, Ford entered law school at the University of Mississippi, where he met his, wife Heather Ford, who is also a lawyer. After graduating in 2005, he and Heather moved to Clayton. She had a job as a campaign manager, and he started working for Brock and Scott PLLC in Raleigh.

Ford later worked for Hutchens, Senter, Britton P.A. in Clayton and Fayetteville. In 2010, after two years of commuting to Fayetteville, he and his wife decided to open their own practice in Clayton, where they handle 30-40 cases each month.

For the past two years, Ford said, he has been thinking about running for clerk of court, and in order to be ethical, he has been scaling back on the number of cases he handles – such as wills – that would go through the clerk’s office.

Ford wants to take the leadership and legal skills he has gained in his career and apply them to a job he sees as important. “You’re signing orders and making decisions that are affecting the lives of the people in the county,” he said.

Ford said he wouldn’t want to run for any other office and isn’t doing this so he can get into politics. Neither does he need a job. “Because I’ve got a job; I’ve got a great job,” he said. “It really is a unique service opportunity for me.”

Clerk of court is a hard job that requires multitasking, interpersonal skills and legal knowledge.

Multitasking, Ford said, is one of his strengths. He calls himself a “player coach,” meaning he doesn’t just delegate work; he can do it himself. In his Clayton law office, he said, “I do everything from answering the phone to taking out the trash and anything that would be required for the running of a legal office.”

The clerk’s office has about 40 employees.

“You could fill your day with personnel issues with 40 people,” Ford said. His goal would be to promote a team mentality. “I enjoy helping people and believe that team building enables you to better serve,” he said.

Legal experience, Ford said, is important for the clerk of court job. He has gotten to know many clerks of court, and he said it makes a big difference when they have a legal background. With 14 years as a lawyer, he thinks he qualifies.

“We need someone who, when there are important decisions to be made, has the legal education and experience, the legal background to be prepared to make those decisions,” Ford said. “I think the knowledge that I’ve gained through my practice would benefit being in that position.”

The job, he said, would be stressful but rewarding: “Going into an office and trying to live up to a legend, Mr. Crocker, I can’t imagine there won’t be some stress with that,” Ford said, referring to longtime clerk Will Crocker. “But that’s what I love to do. I love to challenge myself.”

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