Hattiesburg attorney will lead Mississippi Bar Association in 2020

By BETH BUNCH,

Jennifer Ingram Johnson of Hattiesburg will serve as the next president of the Mississippi Bar Association. Johnson was elected on Wednesday after a process which ran from Jan. 7-29, and will serve as the president-elect designee until she is sworn in during the summer of 2020. She will head the 9,000-member state association during the 2020-21 year. She will be the fifth female president.

According to Melanie Hendry, communications director with the bar association, Johnson will assume the role of president-elect starting Aug. 1. She will become the president elect behind Amanda Stubblefield Tollison of Oxford, who is currently president-elect behind Pat Bennett of Jackson, the third female president in the association’s 115 years.

“It’s a very unique situation to have three female presidents in a row,” Henry said. 

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the profession I've been fortunate enough to call my own for the last 20 years,” Johnson said. “Our Bar has come a long way since our first president was elected in 1906. It took 100 years for us to elect our first female as president in 2005, but since then we have had two more women serve in that role, AND we currently have a female president-elect, and I'm the president-elect designee. That means we will have three women in a row to serve in this prestigious role. 

Former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy helped Johnson get her start volunteering for the MS Bar in 2002 when she introduced her to then-president, Don Dornan, who appointed her to the Professionalism Committee that year. Johnson served in some capacity since that time. 

According to Johnson, Lt. Gov. Gandy was a close and significant mentor to her from childhood until Gov. Gandy’s death in 2007.

“I am humbled by the support of my colleagues, and I'm thrilled to have this wonderful opportunity ahead of me to, hopefully, make a difference for the attorneys in Mississippi and for the members of the public whom we serve,” Johnson said. 

One of Johnson’s goals during her year as president will be to diversify the leadership roles in the Bar to be sure that there are service opportunities afforded to a representative population of the members.

“The State Bar represents all Mississippi attorneys and I hope to open the pathways for inclusion of all Mississippi attorneys who want to serve and who are willing to serve,” Johnson said. “I also hope to focus on consumer satisfaction by continuing the good work started by others before me in highlighting ethics, professionalism and civility among our members and in how our members represent their clients.” 

Johnson will be the eighth Hattiesburg attorney who have served at the helm of the association, including S.E. Travis (1918-1919), George Currie (1928-1929), Alexander Currie 1941-1942, Earle L. Wingo (1945-1946), M.M. Roberts (1956-1957), Edward J. Currie (196301964) and Frank D. Montague Jr. (1975-1976).

Johnson, who practices with her mentor and father, Carroll H. Ingram, as the law firm of Ingram, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, and Civil Solutions, LLC, Mediators and Consultants, earned her Juris Doctorate from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky., in 1998. 

Since that time she has concentrated her litigation practice in the fields of Catastrophic Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Commercial and Business Torts, Consumer Fraud, Product Liability, National Multi-District Litigation, and Eminent Domain. 

In 2013, Johnson completed the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, a 40-hour legal training course in problem solving and negotiation skills and has since that time continually met the standards for inclusion in the Mississippi Bar Association’s Mediator Directory. She has expanded her practice to include Mediation as a service offered. Johnson is actively involved in the Mississippi Bar Association, the Mississippi Association for Justice, and the American Association for Justice, and has held leadership positions in each. 

She currently serves as Chair of the Committee for Professional Responsibility with the Mississippi Bar. Jennifer has been accepted into membership by ABOTA, the American Board of Trial Advocates, as one of the youngest female members nationwide, and has already become actively involved in promoting ABOTA’s national program, Civility Matters.

Johnson is frequently invited as a guest lecturer and presenter at Continuing Legal Education programs and at State-wide Association meetings. In addition to her professional association activities, Johnson serves her local community as chair of the Advisory Board for the Children’s Center for Communication and Development. 

Before attending law school, Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Music from The University of Mississippi in 1993. Since her graduation from law school, Johnson has engaged in an active civil trial practice, including work in the Circuit, Chancery and District courts throughout Mississippi.  

She has also practiced in the area of Multi District Litigation in New Orleans, Texas and Boston. In addition to her law practice, Johnson has made it a priority to give back to the profession through extensive volunteer work with the Mississippi Bar Association and the Mississippi Association for Justice. 

She currently resides in Hattiesburg  with her husband, William Wesley Johnson, Ph.D., who is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Southern Mississippi, and has two daughters, Aubrie Ann, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, and Alleigh Wilkinson, a sophomore at South New Summit School in Hattiesburg.

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