Clinton School alumni Jack Lofton has continued to make public service a priority after graduating with an MPS and concurrent law degree in 2013, whether it’s through his work as a consumer advocacy attorney, documentarian, filmmaker, or efforts on the board of the Arkansas Cinema Society.
“My primary job is working with the Johnson Firm and Attorney Group,” Lofton said. “That’s the law firm and consumer advocacy organization that helps those who are injured by other people’s actions – primarily mass torts. At its core, my practice is about helping people. And helping people who have been injured by a drug or medical device, and might not otherwise have access to justice, is a particularly important opportunity for service.”
In addition to his legal work in Little Rock, Lofton owns and operates his own film company, Mudroom Films. His roots in cinema run deep – Lofton was an Executive Director of the Little Rock Film Festival and currently sits on the board of the Arkansas Cinema Society, founded by filmmakers Jeff Nichols and Kathryn Tucker.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., Lofton spent most of the first 10 years of his life in Dallas, Texas. His father worked in real estate before moving the family back to Hughes, Ark., after inheriting a family farm. The move was positive, Lofton said, as it balanced his early life in Dallas – a city with a metropolitan population of more than a million – with life in a small Arkansas community.
“I had to learn how to communicate with people from different backgrounds,” he said. “The people and personal skills from the totally different environments helped me, in addition to the values and cultures of the two areas. And as a kid at the time, I was in heaven. I got to shoot my BB gun when I wanted and fireworks!”
One interest that preceded the move was theater. He acted in his first play, “The Wizard of Oz,” as a second-grader in Dallas. By the time he had moved to Hughes just a couple years later, he and his five sisters were writing and acting in their own plays on their family’s farm.
His first real taste of the stage came from a community theatre just 30 minutes away in West Memphis, Ark. Performing in musicals and plays like “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Our Town,” he was allowed to explore a natural curiosity and step into his character’s shoes.
“I enjoyed the process,” Lofton said of what initially drew him to the stage. “You have to understand the story of the play – the different acts, what happens, what each character is thinking and doing – and then you have to look at your own character and see how they are a part of the overall story.”
His passion for theater continued into high school, and eventually paved his way to college. Lofton attended Lyon College on an acting theater scholarship, graduating as a double-major in theater and political science with plans of becoming an entertainment lawyer and agent.
Those plans were put on hold, temporarily, when shortly after graduation he and his sister were cast as stand-ins on Walk the Line, the Academy Award-winning film about the life of country music legend Johnny Cash that was shot in Memphis.
“My sister and I went to the audition, both of us got called back without them knowing we were brother and sister, me as the stand in for Joaquin Phoenix and she as the stand in for Reese Witherspoon,” he said. “It was a great experience for both of us.”
Lofton moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter and tapped into the network he established while on set for Walk the Line, finding work on several independent films. It was there he noticed his skill for finding talent or stories and helping to get them made and began to tap into his skills as a filmmaker.
He returned to Little Rock to attend the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and pursue a career in entertainment law. The plan was to spend a year in Little Rock and transfer to the University of Southern California or New York University, two law schools with concentrations in entertainment law.
It was then that he first learned about the Clinton School of Public Service, becoming one of the school’s first students to pursue a concurrent degree.
He credits the Clinton School with advancing his sense of service and duty to others, noting, “… it helped me find myself and find certain ideals that interest me.” He passed on numerous local law clerkships to help build the Little Rock Film Festival because “that’s where my interests were.”
“That’s what I was passionate about,” Lofton said. “I was helping create a local industry about art and film culture, a lot of which we didn’t have in Little Rock at the time.
Serving as the festival’s first executive director, Lofton championed much of the major expansion and big-picture ideas, including branding the event as a southern festival. He left the Little Rock Film Festival in 2011 and made “All About Ann,” an HBO documentary about the former Texas governor featuring interviews with President Bill Clinton, Willie Nelson, Tom Brokaw, and Nancy Pelosi among others.
Currently, he is working on a pair of documentaries: “The ‘Vous” about a world-famous Memphis barbecue restaurant, and “Kings of Tort,” which showcases big-league trial attorneys and mass torts players who wage battles against corporations for consumers.
Both documentaries contain a sense of his education in public service. “The ‘Vous” touches on the social issues of the restaurant, which opened in the 1940s, and serves as a history for the city of Memphis as a whole. “Kings of Tort” looks to showcase the personalities and talents of the attorneys advocating for consumer justice. By showcasing the attorneys as people, “… You’ll likely see the importance of embracing consumer rights,” he said. “These are the Davids fighting every day against the Goliaths.”
Lofton is active in the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, American Association for Justice. He is an Arkansas Business “40 under 40” honoree and has been listed as a “Top 40 under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers.