Former professor, alum Norvie Lay leaves legacy of tax and estate planning expertise

Former professor, alum Norvie Lay leaves legacy of tax and estate planning expertise

The Brandeis School of Law mourns the death of an alum, former faculty member, respected legal community figure and loyal friend of the law school, Norvie Lay, who died April 12 in Louisville.

Lay earned his J.D. from UofL in 1963 and joined the faculty in 1964, serving the law school in a variety of positions over the next 50 years including interim dean in 1980-81. He retired from the law school in 2014.

“The loss of Norvie Lay is one that many alumni, faculty, and staff at the Brandeis School of Law feel keenly, and we extend deepest sympathies to the Lay family,” said Melanie B. Jacobs, dean of the law school. “Norvie was a beloved professor who demanded excellence from his students yet strongly supported their efforts to excel.  We seek to honor his legacy by continuing his tradition of excellence and support.”

Lay was a nationally renowned expert in tax law and estate planning with a strong record of publishing and scholarly activity. His book, Tax and Estate Planning for Community Property and the Migrant Client, was a go-to desk reference for trust companies and estate planners for many years.

His influence on Brandeis Law School students throughout the decades was immeasurable, leading former faculty member Steve Smith to create the Norvie Lay Award in Estate Planning and Taxation in 2023. The award recognizes an outstanding student in either estate planning or taxation and carries with it a monetary stipend applied towards tuition. The first award was presented to Allie Just who is set to graduate in May.

“Norvie Lay was the most talented academic administrator I have known. His bright and perceptive nature helped. He was also passionate about the law and legal education and had compassion for students who were committed to their future in the law,” Smith said.

Lay’s daughter, Lea Anne Sullivan, was delighted to see her father's legacy at Brandeis School of Law honored. "He was the first in his family to attend college," she said. "We are so appreciative that Steve and the law school have been able to honor my dad’s work. He was proud of his teaching career.”