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Louisiana Bar honors public service by Jane Johnson, Kim Sport

October 28, 2015


In early October, Professor Jane Johnson, Tulane Law’s director of experiential learning, received a Louisiana State Bar Association public service award that had gotten sidetracked by Hurricane Katrina.

Photo by Tracie Morris Schaefer 

Tulane Law School Professor Jane Johnson (L ’74) remembers the 2005 letter she received congratulating her on being selected for the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Crystal Gavel Award recognizing her extensive community service.
At the time, she was transitioning to supervising students’ public interest externships after 26 years as director of the Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic. The letter indicated that an award ceremony would be scheduled for that September.
But, by September of 2005, New Orleans was in chaos because of the hugely damaging flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. Johnson and her husband, Public Law Center Executive Director David Marcello (L '71), evacuated to Thibodaux, Louisiana, for several months. They returned when electricity was restored to help with the daunting task of getting their home, the law school and the community functioning again.
The Louisiana Bar Center was shuttered for months, and staff had scattered across the state.
Years later, Johnson, now Tulane Law’s director of experiential learning, found the LSBA letter and set it aside with a giggle, she said, “thinking that this award was gone with the wind.”
But this year, as the region was taking stock on the 10th anniversary of Katrina, LSBA staff came across the award that hadn’t been presented. They arranged to belatedly recognize Johnson as an unsung hero — a role she continues to play as Tulane Law’s director of experiential learning, still supervising public interest externships and developing an expanding array of programs to help students build their skills in working with clients.

Louisiana State Bar Association President Mark A. Cunningham presents a Citizen Lawyer Award to attorney/activist Kim S. Sport (L ’88).

Photo by LSBA staff 

In early October, the LSBA honored Johnson and attorney/community activist Kim S. Sport (L ’88) with Citizen Lawyer Awards (the new name for the Crystal Gavel Awards).
Sport was chosen for her fundraising and legislative work for nonprofits. She founded and chaired Jefferson Dollars for Scholars, which has awarded public school students more than $15 million in scholarships for college and summer camp. A three-time cancer survivor, Sport also started Breastoration, which is dedicated to assisting and educating women diagnosed with breast cancer. She also has helped strengthen state law aimed at helping victims of domestic violence, including working on a statute that recently took effect protecting domestic violence victims from eviction.
Johnson said she was surprised to get the LSBA award a decade after it was intended.
“Since Katrina was the cause of it not being delivered timely, then 10 years after is a great time to get it,” she said.
In addition to her Tulane work, Johnson has long been a leader in community volunteerism. She recently served as vice president of UNITY GNO for the Homeless and completed a term as board president of the Neighborhood Development Association/Associated Neighborhood Development.
She received the LSBA’s Access to Justice Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 for her lifetime commitment, outstanding service and dedication to indigent Louisiana residents. And in August, the Federal Bar Association’s New Orleans chapter presented her with its Camille Gravel Public Service Award.
The bar also plans to present a Citizen Lawyer Award to Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Joyce C. Lobrano, a 1983 Newcomb College graduate.


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