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Beloved law professor receives "Good Apple" advocacy award

January 22, 2021 8:30 AM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

Tonya Jupiter is the law school's Associate Director for Pro Bono and Advocacy Programs, coordinating Tulane Law School’s legendary pro bono programs.


Tulane Law Prof. Tonya Jupiter, for her work “above and beyond the typical pro bono commitment,” received the Louisiana Appleseed Access to Justice Pro Bono Good Apple Award Thursday evening.

Jupiter (L’94) is the law school's Associate Director for Pro Bono and Advocacy Programs, coordinating Tulane Law School’s legendary pro bono programs.  This year, she recruited law students to work more than 100 hours in a two-month period, enabling Louisiana Appleseed and Lagniappe Law to build the state’s first Legal Navigator, a self-help legal resource.

For her “persistent work” generating interest in these projects, Jupiter was honored by Louisiana Appleseed with the award, given annually to a select number of volunteers who “have risen above the typical pro bono commitment” or to “to celebrate pillars within our communities whose daily lives align with Louisiana Appleseed's mission to increase Access to Justice, Opportunity, and Education,” according to Appleseed’s website.

Jupiter and Richardson

Jupiter received the award early Thursday from Appleseed Board member and Tulane Law Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Sally Richardson. The awards gala was held Thursday night in a virtual format.

“Louisiana Appleseed could not have chosen a finer exemplar of professionalism and service than Tonya Jupiter,” said law Dean David Meyer. “She models integrity, collegiality, and a passionate commitment to justice in her every dimension. Our students, our community, and our profession are all in her debt.”

Jupiter’s selection is a particular source of pride for Tulane Law, which has long partnered with Louisiana Appleseed, part of a network of 17 public interest law centers across the nation, in working to solve systemic issues in vulnerable populations.

Numerous Tulanians serve on the Louisiana Appleseed Board, dedicated to improving the lives of Louisianians. Among them are Donald Abaunza (L'69), Valerie Briggs Bargas (L '01), Judge Paula Brown (Tulane '86), Celeste Coco-Ewing (NC' 90, L'97), Paul Flower (E '75), Christy Harowski (L '06), Tamia Gordon (B '18, B'19), Stephen Herman (L '94), Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson (L'97), Kathlyn Perez (L '06), Tulane Law Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Prof. Sally Richardson, and Harry Rosenberg (L '72).

At the law school, Jupiter is the force behind making sure more than 600 law students connect with dozens of agencies and non-profits in need of assistance. Students work doing research, interviewing clients and drafting memos and briefs alongside licensed attorneys, assisting the community’s most vulnerable clients. The students gain experience with the legal process, earn mandatory pro bono hours for graduation and learn ready-for-practice skills. The agencies and their clients get much-needed advocacy support.

Jupiter also is a faculty supervisor for the judicial externship program, meaning she helps students secure placements in both state and federal court chambers. In that role, she mentors students and encourages members of the judiciary to consider Tulane Law students when they have openings.

“Tonya models exuberance and enthusiasm for her work,” said Dean of Experiential Learning Stacy Seicshnaydre. “She is so creative and committed in her approach to the programs she oversees, it is almost impossible to say no when she asks for help on behalf of her students.”

Prior to joining Tulane in 2016, Jupiter was in private practice, working with various private firms where she concentrated on civil defense litigation, including toxic torts, general casualty, commercial and personal injury litigation. Jupiter clerked with the Hon. Michael G. Bagneris (L ’75) at Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans.  

In 2019, she was a planner and organizer of the law school’s Black Law Alumni Reunion, which celebrated 50 years of black law student achievement.