Alumni Spotlights

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Jay C. Zainey, Judge U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, BS Accounting 1973

United States District Court Judge Jay C. Zainey has been named the University of New Orleans 2012 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He will be presented with the award at a ceremony in the fall of 2012. The distinguished alumni selection committee is made up of former award recipients.

Zainey graduated cum laude from UNO in 1973 with a bachelor of science in accounting. He is a Metairie native and a graduate of Jesuit High School. He was appointed to the federal bench for the U.S. District Court in 2002. He is the current chairman of the Pro Bono Project and serves on the New Orleans chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

In his letter of nomination for Zainey, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten wrote: “Jay Zainey’s indefatigable energy, work ethic, intellectual capacity, and legal acumen are only exceeded by his truly legendary and sometimes almost incomprehensible selflessness, sacrifice and intense devotion to God, his family, his country, his fellow citizens, and those around him who are less fortunate.”

While president of the Louisiana State Bar Association in 1995-96, Zainey established the first committee to provide legal referral services to the disabled. He co-founded St. Andrew’s Village, a long-term living community serving adults with developmental disabilities—the first of its kind in Louisiana. Zainey also formed Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) to provide free legal consultation and notary services at homeless shelters throughout the New Orleans area. In 2002 he co-founded SOLACE, which assists members of the legal community who experience family tragedy. 

Zainey has received numerous awards including the Jesuit High School 2008 Alumnus of the Year, Homines Pro Aliis Award given by the Jesuit Southern Province, the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Jurist Award and the Humanitarian Award for Distinguished Leadership from Unity for the Homeless of Greater New Orleans. 

Zainey is also an active supporter of UNO. He has hosted a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) event for UNO alumni, spoken to UNO classes and counseled UNO students interested in entering the legal profession.

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