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Lutz Family Fellowship pays public interest forward

July 19, 2013

The experience of people creating opportunities for others is very personal for the Lutz family.

“I wouldn’t have lived around the country and worked all over the world without Tulane,” said Laurent Lutz, a 1986 Tulane Law School graduate who’s been executive vice president and general counsel of Sallie Mae since 2011. “How I got to Tulane is another story entirely.”

Lutz’s father became the first person in his family to attend college through the efforts of a couple who employed both Lutz’s father and grandfather. The Haas family of Bunkie, Louisiana, sent two students to college in honor of their son, a pilot who died during the Korean conflict. That generosity made the dream of education a reality for Lutz’s father. And, Lutz said, if not for a close friend who pointed him toward a particular scholarship, he would not have attended Tulane Law School.

“Let’s be honest.  Hard work is important, but many opportunities just don’t exist unless somebody provides them for you,” he said.

Lutz has decided to help a new Tulane Law graduate each year through a fellowship aimed at assisting children and families. The gift will endow The Lutz Family Public Interest Fellowship for Children’s Welfare. It will enable a new lawyer to work for an agency in New Orleans or Baton Rouge to assist clients on domestic violence, child protection and parental rights cases.

Lutz said he wants to “give back to the law school and give new Tulane lawyers opportunities to follow their aspirations to help others.”

In working with Sallie Mae, he said, “I see firsthand in this economy how very hard it is for new graduates to get jobs in their chosen fields. It’s no secret that government cuts hit hard on those with child and family issues. It is my family’s sincere hope that this fellowship can in some small way reconcile those two concerns.”

Sallie Mae, otherwise known as SLM Corporation, is a financial services company that offers college savings plans, loans and other products and services to help families save, plan and pay for higher education.

Lutz previously served as counsel to Accenture, BearingPoint and Allstate and has practiced with several leading firms, including Mayer Brown.

He said Tulane exposed him to students from diverse personal, geographic and cultural backgrounds. These different perspectives were great preparation for learning to work and negotiate in the global business community, he said.

Lutz said he’s excited about focusing resources on helping children.

“It takes a lot of different people to get children in need or threatening situations on the right path,” he said. “Sadly, in Louisiana, a lot of opportunities are not available to low-income children or people with distress in their lives.”

Tulane Law School Dean David Meyer said this important gift would help Tulane graduates to realize their dreams of a career in public-interest law while improving the lives of needy children and families. 

“Children and families caught up in the child welfare system are often at their most vulnerable,” said Meyer, a family law specialist.  “Access to a lawyer at the right moment can make all the difference,” he said.

“This generous endowment gift will touch lives today and for generations to come,” Meyer said.  “It represents the best of what Tulane is all about – developing high-quality lawyers through constructive service to the community – and I am deeply grateful to Laurent Lutz for reaching back to share his success with those who now follow in his footsteps.”

The endowment gift is expected to place the first Lutz Family Public Interest Fellow into the field in the summer of 2014.



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