Dallas Bar Association

Barry Sorrels to be Inaugurated as DBA’s 102nd President

by Suzanne Raggio Westerheim

[Download January Headnotes PDF]

You may recognize Barry Sorrels because you’ve seen him around the Belo Mansion or maybe because you’ve watched him giving legal commentaries on TV news programs such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News National or Court TV. As of Saturday, January 15, 2010, you will recognize him as the face of the Dallas Bar Association. That’s when he will be inaugurated as the association’s 102nd president—only the fourth criminal defense attorney to become DBA president in the modern era.

Mr. Sorrels grew up in the Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas and graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1970. During his high school years, he played both football and baseball, but it was football that took him to Columbia University, where he played safety. His senior year, Mr. Sorrels was named MVP of the Columbia football team, First Team All-Ivy League and Honorable Mention All-American.

At Columbia, when he wasn’t out on the football field, Mr. Sorrels tackled the subject of political science—an interesting topic to pursue, as it was during a time of anti-war protests and campus rioting. The experience left a lasting impression and began a lifelong interest in political history and, in particular, American presidents.

After graduation from Columbia, Mr. Sorrels returned to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University School of Law. During law school, Mr. Sorrels worked summers and part-time during the school year at the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, where he observed, learned and helped prepare numerous trials.

He was hired by the D.A.’s office upon graduation from law school in 1978. The toughness and competitive nature that was shown on the football field was a natural fit for a career in law. After only one year as a misdemeanor prosecutor he was prosecuting felonies in the Honorable John Vance’s 194th District Court.  During that time he logged significant trial experience. After almost three years in the District Attorney’s office, Mr. Sorrels went into private practice as a criminal defense lawyer.

Mr. Sorrels has practiced law with the firm of Sorrels, Udashen & Anton since 2001.  He has spent a significant amount of his career defending federal cases ranging from complex white-collar fraud cases to multi-defendant drug conspiracies.

He has been Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1983, and is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Attorney and Advisory Ethics Commission.

Despite a very busy schedule, Mr. Sorrels also volunteers his time every year to be the Course Director of a trial skills course for young lawyers at the Center for American and International Law. He is also a frequent lecturer on federal and state criminal law topics.

Throughout his legal career, Mr. Sorrels has been active in the Dallas Bar Association. He served as President of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers in 1987. He served on the DBA Board of Directors from 1987-1989, returning to the Board in 2002, where he was appointed Vice-Chair of the Board and later, Chair of the Board. In addition, he has served as DBA Second Vice-President, First Vice-President and President-Elect.

 “I am excited to have the opportunity to be president of the Dallas Bar Association,” he said. “The DBA presents an environment of service to the profession and to the community that is also fun and where all of the wonderful people you get an opportunity to work with become your friends.”

Mr. Sorrels said that most of the people he cares about in the world are lawyers. “Lawyers are interesting, open-minded people who are well-educated and trained to look at issues from different perspectives,” he said. “People who practice law have a wonderful sense of purpose that you do not find in many other professions. These are the kind of people I like to spend time with and there happen to be a whole bunch of them at 2101 Ross Avenue.”

In addition to holding several leadership positions with the DBA Board of Directors, Mr. Sorrels has also been active with a variety of DBA Committees and Sections, including the Criminal Justice Committee, the Criminal Law Section, the CLE Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Trial Skills Section and the Bench Bar Committee, for which he received the Jo Anna Moreland Outstanding Committee Chair Award. He has also served as chair of the Annual Campaign for Equal Access to Justice and as President of the Community Service Fund. He is a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, Dallas Bar Foundation and the DAYL Foundation.

 “When we work together, great things can be accomplished,” said Mr. Sorrels. He added that the DBA is an embassy of respect for the community and for visitors from all over the world. He would like to expand that hospitality to an even higher level during his presidency.

“One of the reasons the DBA is a very successful organization is that it has had effective leadership year after year,” he added. “That leadership has built a foundation for success that has grown stronger with each passing year. I hope to continue to make that foundation a little bit better if I possibly can.”

Mr. Sorrels lives in Dallas with his wife, Brenda, who was his college sweetheart. His daughters, Quincy and Avery graduated from Southlake Carroll High School. Quincy, 26, lives in Dallas and is a hair stylist at Peyton Thomas Salon in Southlake and Avery, 24 a recent graduate of Columbia University, lives in Brooklyn, New York, and attends Parsons School of Design. Mr. Sorrels and his family enjoy spending time on the east coast, are avid divers and enjoy taking scuba vacations in the Caribbean.

Suzanne Raggio Westerheim represents and advises lawyers and law firms on professional responsibility issues. Ms. Westerheim is the former Co-Chair of the DBA Publications Committee. She can be reached at suzanne@legallyethical.com.

Back to top