February 16, 2016
Tulane Eason-Weinmann Chair Emeritus A.N. Yiannopoulos (far right) joined Professor Guiguo Wang (far left) at his April 2015 investiture as current Eason-Weinmann Chair. Also attending were Ambassador John Giffen Weinmann and Virginia Eason, whose gift supports the chair, and Wang’s wife, Priscilla.
Photo by Sally Asher
Professor Emeritus A.N. Yiannopoulos, who has helped shape Louisiana’s civil code and generations of law students’ understanding of it, has created an endowed scholarship at Tulane Law.
Tulane Law School archives
Rare is the court ruling on an issue of Louisiana property law that isn’t influenced by Tulane Law Professor Emeritus A.N. Yiannopoulos. He has, after all, revised major parts of the state’s civil code and dominated the field for more than four decades.
But now he’s working on another legacy: creating an endowed scholarship fund that he intends to grow into a full-tuition award for a Tulane student focusing on civil and comparative law.
“I was educated by American taxpayers’ money, and I want to discharge the debt of honor,” Yiannopoulos said, in his typical disarmingly direct fashion.
Born in the port city of Thessaloniki in Greece, Yiannopoulos had earned a law degree and served in the army before traveling to the United States to study for a master of comparative law degree at the University of Chicago through a Fulbright Fellowship.
He then received an LLM and JSD at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with then-Dean William Prosser, author of one of the most-enduring textbooks on U.S. tort law. After completing another doctorate at the University of Cologne, Yiannopoulos joined the Louisiana State University law faculty in 1958. But Paul Verkuil, Tulane Law dean in 1978-85, lured him to New Orleans.
At Tulane, Yiannopoulos helped launch the admiralty law program, continued to write the most-influential treatises available on Louisiana property law, brought international conferences to campus and has taught a wide variety of civil law courses to thousands of students.
As the Eason-Weinmann Chair Emeritus, he has done extensive international work, bringing his knowledge of French, German, Greek and Roman law into his analysis of Louisiana statutes. He was elected a titular member of the International Academy of Comparative Law and ran Tulane Law’s summer program in Greece for many years.
Professor Emeritus A.N. Yiannopoulos (left) was on hand when the Louisiana Bar Foundation honored Professor Bob Force with its Distinguished Professor Award in 2014. Yiannopoulos received the award in 2001. Both men were instrumental in developing Tulane’s admiralty program, now a world leader. Friends established a scholarship fund in Force's name in 2012.
Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Bar Foundation
Each spring, he still co-teaches a civil law seminar with Vice Dean Ron Scalise (L ’00), one of his former students.
“He’s got an encyclopedic mind and knows not only the subject matter he teaches inside and out, but anything ancillary to it,” Scalise said.
He said Yiannopoulos has influenced every aspect of property law, from the basics of possession and ownership to the intricacies of servitudes, which can govern the relationships between adjacent property owners.
“There isn’t a significant property case decided in Louisiana that doesn’t cite, consult or refer to his work,” Scalise said.
He said Yiannopoulos “has helped shape generations of students,” not just in teaching them the law but in assisting their career development: “He’s always been very generous with his time and with his knowledge.”
Lafayette attorney Amy Allums Lee (L ’01) called Yiannopoulos “the most remarkable person” and an intellectual genius.
“His classroom instruction was extremely challenging, but always with a delightful spirit,” said Lee, who practices energy and environmental law with Johnson Gray McNamara. As Yiannopoulos’ research assistant for two years and assistant editor of the Louisiana Civil Code and the Louisiana Civil Law Treatise volumes 2-4, she learned to value precision in a way that has served her well in her career, she said.
Lee said Yiannopoulos has continued to be a friend, and they’ve worked together on Louisiana State Law Institute committees.
“He is ever an inspiration to dig deep into the issues, to understand and appreciate them and their relationship to the law as a whole, and to live and enjoy the law as an art, rather than ‘just a job.’ I am eternally grateful to him for that.”