Since 1972, John O. Lafferty Jr. has been practicing law and community service in Lincoln County. Originally from Charlotte, Lafferty came to Lincolnton and has been in business for 43 years because “Lincolnton is the center of the Earth.”
“Lincolnton is an hour or less away from everything,” he said. “I can go visit family in Charlotte, I can get to the mountains — all while still having that small town feel.”
With a very rich family history, it is obvious why Lafferty is so intrigued by history. Lafferty comes from a long line of doctors and ministers, as well as many ancestors who fought in the Civil War and World War II. Lafferty even speaks of an uncle that was a physical chemist and took part in the famous Manhattan Project, a relative that was a founder of Hampton City, Virginia, an uncle that was the president of what is now called High Point University, and perhaps even a relation to William the Conqueror.
With a strong passion for history, Lafferty earned his bachelor’s degree in just that from UNC-Charlotte in 1969.
“It was hard to get a job at that time, so I just thought I’d stay in school,” he said.
When he asked his advisor whether he should pursue law or history in his graduate studies, the advisor answered law, and the rest is history. He continued on to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he earned his law degree.
Some of Lafferty’s proudest accomplishments do not lie within his law career, but in the community service he has done in the past few decades.
“Serving on the UNC-Charlotte Alumni Association, we really improved the program and created the alumni system that is still in place now,” he said.
Lafferty said that as an alumni member and president-elect, the team sat down together and made a list of everything they wanted to accomplish that year, and they did every single one of those things.
Serving as a leader with the Lincoln Cultural Center, Lafferty also made some of his fondest accomplishments there, as well. Lafferty said he takes pride in helping stabilize the Cultural Center in Lincoln County, as well as obtaining the unique red sign that all locals are familiar with.
Lafferty has also run a few marathons and climbed all the mountains in western North Carolina. He is also a talented photographer, having his office filled with pictures from his travels in Croatia, France, Sarasota, The Netherlands, Adkin Valley, Ocean Isle Beach and many, many more.
Being a member of “Admiral Jimmy’s Fleet Crew” has brought Lafferty much joy and many memories. He has sailed in many parts of the world with this group. The group is named after another one of its members, who was a respected elder that passed away from old age shortly after one of the trips.
Some of the most memorable accomplishments in his career include the people he helped and trained in law, both in his office and as a business law teacher at Gaston College. Lafferty speaks fondly of several individuals that have come through his office as paralegal trainees and then went on to excel as lawyers in huge practices and firms.
“I’m pretty proud of some of the people that have came through my office,” Lafferty said.
So after 43 years of practicing law and community service, Lafferty’s still not stopping. He said that after so long, “you just start cutting back on some stuff.”
“When I started practicing law, I did everything, now I just try to stay out of court, and have office assistants,” he said.
Changes that Lafferty has seen in the practice of law over his career include the move of everything to being online.
“Back when I started, all young lawyers started in the register of deeds, they would be hanging out at the court house, and mentors were important, now everything is online,” Lafferty said.
Even in the 70s when Lafferty was just starting out, and still today — more than 40 years later — he can still see the hometown attributes of Lincolnton. He said that fond memories of “walking around downtown any time of day or night and not having oneself or possessions bothered” is a feature of a town that makes living in this city special.