Campbell Law graduate earns prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Photo of Joonu-Noel-Coste in her graduation regalia standing outside Duke Energy Center holding a black folder with gold letters that read Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law

Joonu-Noel Andrews Coste will team up with Disability Rights of North Carolina

RALEIGH — Joonu-Noel Andrews Coste ’19 is a recipient of the 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate legal fellowships in the country.

Coste plans to use the fellowship to help youth trapped in a system that frequently sends them from psychiatric treatment to prison.

Each year, Equal Justice Works selects a class of passionate public service leaders who have designed two-year projects in partnership with legal services organizations that help build sustainable solutions in the communities they serve. The projects are funded by the generous support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals.

Coste is one of 76 new lawyers selected from more than 450 applications. A native of Dover, New Hampshire, Coste — who now lives in Garner — earned her juris doctor from Campbell Law on Friday, May 10, and will take the bar exam in July.

Coste will be hosted at Disability Rights North Carolina, where she will work to “empower families and communities by reducing over-reliance on Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF) and ending the ‘PRTF-to-prison pipeline’ in North Carolina through direct representation, impact litigation, education, and legislation.”

Minorities, economically disadvantaged and disabled youth and those suffering from mental health or addiction issues, are disproportionately placed in the pipeline, according to Equal Justice Works’ summary of her project.

Often people with autism are dismissed as having nothing to say because they have difficulty communicating. Two of Coste’s three children are autistic, and her experience advocating for them inspired her to attend law school and work on behalf of those with special needs.

“When I met Joonu in her first year of law school, I literally could feel her passion for helping children with special needs and their families navigate the educational and legal landscape that is often a daunting feat,” says Kala Taylor, assistant dean of Campbell Law’s Career and Professional Development Center. “I am so happy that she will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact as an EJW Fellow. She is driven and hardworking and I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish for her clients and our entire community. This is what leading with purpose looks like!”

At Disability Rights NC,  Coste plans to expand the organization’s monitoring of youth in the treatment-to-prison pipeline and of those returning home, working closely with parents and community groups. Her project will include educating lawmakers on treatment and incarceration issues, and she will pursue legal help for youths who are abused while in the system.

Equal Justice Works is a non-profit organization that has built an extensive network of law students, lawyers, legal services organizations, and supporters to promote public service and equal justice. It helps connect law students and law school professionals, helps law schools expand public interest law, and arranges fellowships at organizations across the country.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law will celebrate 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.