Chris A. Cordes was born and raised in Miami, Florida; however, at an early age he developed a love of the mountains through his family’s frequent trips to western North Carolina. This love was the reason he decided to attend Western Carolina University as a freshman in college; however, prior to his sophomore year, Chris chose to transfer to Emory University in Atlanta, which is his father’s alma mater.
In 1980, Chris graduated from Emory with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and returned to South Florida. During the 1980s, Chris worked at a variety of jobs that exposed him to a broad cross-section of his community. Chris worked as a laborer at a horticultural nursery and in construction, a busboy at an infamous Miami restaurant, a waiter and bar-back for a national restaurant chain, a car salesman, and on the campaign staff for a candidate for the United States Senate. Then, after all these many and varied work experiences, Chris chose to return to Emory and enter the school of law in 1989.
Upon entering law school, Chris’s ambition was to become a trial attorney, and his hope was to use his skills as a trial attorney to at least occasionally help someone improve his situation in life. In pursuit of this objective, Chris worked for a semester as an intern with Atlanta Legal Aide, and spent the summer between his second and third year of law school working as a clerk for a Miami law firm. During all of his third year of law school, Chris worked as an intern with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. in Atlanta.
After graduating from Emory School of Law and a brief stint in private practice, Chris accepted a position as an assistant public defender in Greenville, North Carolina in the fall of 1993. For the next five years, Chris worked in the Office of the Public Defender in Greenville, initially representing persons charged with misdemeanor offenses in district court, but, as time passed, defending more and more persons charged with felony offenses in superior court.
In 1998, Chris left his position with the state to take a similar position with the federal government. From 1998 to 2001, Chris worked as an assistant federal public defender, representing clients charged with serious felony offenses in the Federal courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina. This work took him to the federal courts in Raleigh, Greenville, Wilmington, and Elizabeth City and many different county jails and state and federal prisons.
In 2001, weary from all the travel associated with his work as an assistant federal defender and wanting to work close to home, Chris returned to the Office of the Public Defender in Greenville. However, now, with a total of 8 years working as a public defender in both state and federal court, Chris’s clients were only those charged with felony offenses, usually serious felony offenses.
After nearly six years more working as an assistant public defender and living a total of nearly 14 years in Greenville, Chris was desirous of moving closer to the mountains that had initially attracted him to North Carolina. Consequently, in 2007, Chris accepted an offer to work as an assistant district attorney in Hickory, North Carolina.
For the next 3 ½ years, Chris worked as an assistant district attorney prosecuting felony cases in superior court, including the successful prosecution of first degree murder cases in both Catawba and Burke counties. As relief from the stress of prosecuting serious felony cases, Chris also frequently volunteered to cover Infractions court in Catawba County. Many, if not most, of the drivers charged with speeding and other ordinary motor vehicle violations in Catawba and Burke counties are required to appear in Infractions court. After covering Infractions court countless times over the course of his 3 ½ years in the District Attorney’s Office, Chris is intimately familiar with the workings of the court, as well as with the prosecutors who cover it now.
In December 2010, Chris left the District Attorney’s Office and early in 2011 he joined our firm. In 2012, Chris agreed to begin taking on our firm’s Social Security disability cases. As mentioned above, Chris went to law school in the hope of at least occasionally being able to help someone improve his situation in life. Representing clients seeking disability benefits from Social Security allows Chris to do this regularly. Chris says no work he has ever done as an attorney has given him greater satisfaction than advocating on behalf of deserving clients seeking disability benefits from Social Security.
Chris will celebrate 30 years of marriage in 2019. His wife is a professional chef. They are the proud parents of 5 children, ranging in age from 15 to 25. The 4 oldest children graduated from Newton-Conover High School and the youngest is in his freshman year there. Except for the oldest, who is a singer/songwriter and musician, all the children played varsity soccer at N-CHS. Since moving to the area in 2007, Chris and his family have been actively involved at Christ Alive Church in Newton.
- Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia
- J.D. - 1992
- Honors: Intern with Atlanta Legal Aide
- Honors: Clerk, Miami law firm
- Honors: Intern with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. in Atlanta
- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
- B.A. - 1980
- Major: Psychology
- North Carolina, 1993
- Office of the Public Defender in Greenville, North Carolina, Assistant Public Defender, 1993 to 1998
- Federal courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Assistant federal public defender, 1998 to 2001