Lionel S. Lofton was born and raised in McClellanville, South Carolina, where he still resides. In 1963, he graduated from McClellanville High School, where his mother taught school. During his senior year, he was named to the Post and Courier's All-Star Basketball Team, which he still talks about to this day. Following graduation, Mr. Lofton enrolled a the University of Georgia to study forestry. Following a year at UGA, he transferred to Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, where he graduated in 1967 with a B.S. degree. During his years at Campbell University, Mr. Lofton was very active in politics and served as the Chairman of the College Republicans for North Carolina. After his graduation from Campbell, Mr. Lofton followed in his mother's footsteps and taught school at Gaffney High School in Gaffney, South Carolina for one year prior to attending law school.
He received his juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1971 and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar the same year. While in law school, Mr. Lofton worked as a law clerk in the United States Attorney's Office. Following graduation from law school, Mr. Lofton was immediately hired as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina. He was the first and only attorney in South Carolina named as an Assistant United States Attorney directly out of law school. He served in that capacity in the Criminal Division from 1971 to February of 1983. During this time, Mr. Lofton took a six-month leave of absence from the United States Attorney's Office to serve as legal advisor to his friend, former Governor James B. Edwards. In recognition of his service, Governor Edwards awarded Mr. Lofton with The Order of the Palmetto in 1978.
In 1983, after twelve years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Lofton left the United States Attorney's Office and opened his own private practice in Charleston, South Carolina. His experience and tenure in the United States Attorney's Office facilitated the development of not only a statewide, but also a national practice, representing those accused of involvement in serious criminal activity and representing those injured as a result of the negligence of others. Mr. Lofton's roots have always been in the South Carolina lowcountry.
He still lives in his hometown of McClellanville, a small coastal fishing village not far from downtown Charleston. He has served as a deacon and elder in the New Wappetaw Presbyterian Church in McClellanville and served on the McClellanville town council for several years. For a number of years, he owned two shrimp trawlers and enjoyed participating in the local fishing industry. Mr. Lofton and his boys enjoy the outdoors and can regularly be found fishing and shrimping the creeks around McClellanville. Additionally, they enjoy hunting deer on his small farm in Williamsburg County, South Carolina.