New award honors retired Professor Norvie Lay, ’63; presented to 3L Allie Just

Brandeis Law School is honored to announce the creation of the Norvie Lay Award in Estate Planning and Taxation and its first recipient, 3L Allie Just. The award recognizes an outstanding student in either estate planning or taxation and carries with it a monetary stipend applied towards tuition.

Professor Norvie Lay

The award is named in honor of Professor Norvie Lay, who retired from Brandeis Law in 2014 and continues to reside in Louisville. He 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.

Lay is 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.

 Just’s interest in estate planning predates her Brandeis Law arrival. After graduating from Bellarmine University in 2020, and with her sights set on law school, she took a gap year to prepare for the LSAT and learn more about the law. She spent the year working in the office of the Jefferson County Public Administrator.

“It was my first experience with reading and drafting legal documents,” she said. “I was working with attorneys and clients, mostly in estate planning.”

She realized it was a place where she fit well. “Clients were dealing with a difficult moment in their lives, and I was often the point person talking to them, helping them navigate the law. Many of them were grieving and I was glad to be able to help them. There is a side of estate planning that requires empathy, care and sensitivity – there is a human element you need that is unique to this area of law.”

That year of legal experience helped inform her studies when she arrived at Brandeis Law, and she brought what she learned during her 1L year to work during summer 2022 with the estate planning and administration attorneys at McBrayer PLLC. Following her 2L year during summer 2023, she expanded her understanding of the field further with the tax, benefits, and estates practice group at Frost, Brown, Todd LLP.

This award was established by Professor Steve Smith, a former professor and Acting[JM1]  Dean at Brandeis Law, in honor of his friend and colleague. “Norvie Lay cares deeply about law students and high-quality legal education,” Smith said. “He was responsible for maintaining and improving the law school's academic quality and encouraging students to prepare well for service in the legal profession.

“Creating this award for students who display excellence in estate planning and taxation recognizes both Norvie's contributions to the law school and superior student achievement.”

Lay’s daughter, Lea Anne Sullivan, is 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 is proud of his teaching career.”