Attorney John C. Jopling – Longtime MCJ Advocate Retires

“The history of this country, especially the South, has a long-standing history of neglect, inequality, and inequities that are traumatically illustrated. This disregard has been more pronounced when it comes to communities of color. As I have grown older, I have become more convinced that we must address the deficit and the laws established during our country’s founding,” said John C. Jopling on why he wanted to study law. We honor John, MCJ’s longtime respected Housing Law Director, as a true Catalyst for Change.

John’s commitment to confronting systemic injustices has defined him as a Catalyst for Change, even before starting his legal career. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the challenging era of Jim Crow, John grew up witnessing the deep-seated inequalities and rampant racism of his segregated community. These early experiences ignited his passion to lead change and make a difference. His journey led him to Mississippi, where he pursued law at the University of Mississippi in 1980. Through his unwavering commitment and vision, John has continuously strived to challenge injustice and inspire positive transformation.

After graduating, he began his career as a clerk for Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Lenore Loving Prather, the first woman to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He later became a clinical professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law Housing Law Clinic, where he prepared future generations of attorneys focused on housing justice.

When he helped to launch the Mississippi Center for Justice Katrina Recovery Office in 2005, he set out on an 18-year journey of dedicated service. This office was established to provide legal assistance to thousands of residents who suffered from damaged or destroyed homes due to Hurricane Katrina. He led a landmark challenge to a settlement in which $132 million was set aside for low-income households in nine Mississippi counties. Through his work at MCJ, John also courageously led a comprehensive response to the largest man-made disaster, helping low- and moderate-income people impacted by the BP oil drilling preserve stable housing.

John has actively addressed discriminatory housing gaps in affordable, fair, and public housing options, ensuring that people from all income levels can access quality housing. He has tirelessly fought to educate the community about their rights under the Fair Housing Act and through direct legal services. Through the eviction prevention initiative, John has vigorously provided information to tenants about the Mississippi Landlord-Tenant Law, personally drafting letters to landlords and working with callers to determine a strategy for their eviction hearing.

With heartfelt gratitude for his decades of dedicated service and profound respect for his exceptional legal acumen, we invite you to celebrate John’s remarkable career. He has retired from his esteemed role as MCJ’s Housing Law Director and Managing Lawyer, but he will forever be known as a Catalyst for Change in Mississippi.

Our team knows John as a reliable team member with a sharp legal mind to “bounce ideas off of and think of tactics and arguments for court.” He knows how to balance legal action with community engagement. Although John has retired, we know he will find new ways to advance racial, economic, and social justice in this next chapter of his life. In John’s words, “A lawyer doesn’t always need a cause of action to cause some action!” We will miss John dearly!