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Max Nathan lauded for 50 years of teaching

April 22, 2015

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Max Nathan (L ’60) was surprised with a gift from students and special visit by colleagues April 22 to honor his 50th year as a Tulane Law adjunct professor.

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Students, faculty and staff celebrated adjunct Professor Max Nathan (center, maroon shirt) at his last class of the semester to mark his 50th year teaching.

For five decades, Professor Max Nathan has savored surprising colleagues and students with the occasional blush-inducing quip or improbably bizarre fact pattern plucked from his storied career.

On April 22, it was their chance to turn the tables, leaving the loquacious teacher momentarily at a loss for words.

Dozens of Tulane Law School faculty and staff walked in on the end of his Civil Law Security Devices class, the last of the academic year, to honor the eminent adjunct professor on completing consecutive 50 years of teaching at his alma mater.

“You have touched the lives of generations of Tulane Law students,” Dean David Meyer told a shocked Nathan, to applause by faculty and a standing ovation from his students. “On behalf of our students, our faculty and alumni stretching back 50 years, thank you for your incredible generosity and passion.”

Students in his current class called it a privilege to study with Nathan (L ’60), an expert on estate planning, inaugural member of the law school’s Hall of Fame and champion of the legal profession. He is a founding partner of Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel in New Orleans.

“One of the last things he said to us was, ‘you’re going to love being a lawyer,’ and I haven’t heard that in a long time,” said Kayla Lawrence (L ’15).  

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Students Dylan Lynch (L ’15) and Cary Phelps (L ’16) joined their classmates (and faculty and staff members) in giving Professor Max Nathan (L ’60) a standing ovation to thank him for his 50 years of teaching at Tulane Law.

In addition to educating students and encouraging them — instead of worrying them — about entering the legal profession, Nathan tells the best stories, they said: about clerking for the legendary Judge John Minor Wisdom (L ’29) on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, working on Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaign and once hugging First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Dylan Lynch (L '15) said Nathan's "passion is outshined by his knowledge of the material."

Students, who presented Nathan with a gift in honor of the milestone, said he clearly still enjoys teaching after 50 years. He’s taught members of the Tulane faculty, parents of some current students and even fellow members of the Tulane Law Hall of Fame.

“It’s been a gift to have a professor who has that affection for teaching and the law,” said Cary Phelps (L ’16), who noted that her father, Ashton Phelps Jr. (L ’70), also had been one of Nathan’s students.

An emotional Nathan was touched by the warm recognition — and said he was already looking forward to year 51: “The pleasure has been all mine.”


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