Impact of Giving
Supporting Today's Students is One Way Bruce and Tracy Mooty Give Back
IT’S EASY TO SEE HOW BRUCE MOOTY ’80 has followed in the footsteps of his father. He attended Minnesota Law and dedicated his career to legal practice, just as John Mooty ’44 did, and he even worked at the same firm. But Mooty takes after his father in another significant but less tangible way.
“One of the core values that my father passed on to me is giving back to the community,” Mooty says. “That’s something that has been important in my life and something that I really enjoy doing.”
It is for this reason that Mooty, senior counsel at Lathrop GPM, and his wife, Tracy, a spiritual director, make a point of giving to support today’s students. Their donations fund the John W. Mooty Public Service Fellowship and the Bruce and Tracy Mooty Scholarship.
Mooty recalls his own law school experience as an opportunity for personal growth that set the foundation for his career in mergers and acquisitions and business law. As a student director for the legal aid clinic, he had a chance to do what initially drove him to law school: help people solve problems.
“That probably was the most instrumental part of knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer,” he says. “That I could really get a chance to hear what people were going through and see if I could help them figure out what might be the best course of action to take.”
After graduation, Bruce Mooty spent about 14 years at the law firm Briggs and Morgan. He left to join the firm then known as Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett when he got word his father had been diagnosed with cancer. By joining John’s firm, he had an opportunity to work beside him and help out as John fought the disease. It was a cherished opportunity, Mooty says, to spend more time with his father and work with him on legal matters.
Mooty continued his career at the firm, now known as Lathrop GPM, serving for a long time as managing officer and chair before transitioning to his current role as senior counsel, which allows for more time with their three daughters and nine grandchildren and serving on community and nonprofit boards.
When John passed away in 2015, Bruce and Tracy Mooty launched the John W. Mooty Public Service Fellowship to honor his leadership in law and philanthropy. The fellowship lets students explore a career in public interest work through a paid role with a local nonprofit. While students gain valuable hands-on experience, the nonprofits, which often work on limited budgets, benefit from the access to legal expertise. In addition to the fellowship, Bruce and Tracy Mooty have also funded a scholarship to help students overcome the cost of a legal education.
That scholarship is helping pave the way for Gabrielle Maginn, 2L, to pursue a career in public interest law. Maginn, who comes from San Diego, worked at a youth services organization before enrolling in law school and saw firsthand how lack of access to healthy food, quality schools, and after-school care affect children’s early lives and also their opportunities down the road.
“When I came into law school, I knew that I wanted to go into public interest work,” says Maginn. “This scholarship has allowed me the freedom to be able to pursue the work I want to do.”
Cameron Fox, 2L, from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, also envisions using his degree to help people. The scholarship made it possible for him to attend Minnesota Law and study for a career in family law or in the nonprofit world. He has already gained experience working with domestic violence cases.
“I know I want to be working with people, and specifically with families,” he says. “A big focus has been reaching out and helping people in situations where they’re at, especially to help them navigate the often confusing legal world.”
The scholarship is also helping Rae Sansonetti, 3L, advance toward a career in criminal justice. Sansonetti, who comes from eastern Pennsylvania, is interested in protecting individuals’ constitutional rights and hopes to ultimately pursue a career as a public defender.
“I chose criminal justice because for me it’s the most fascinating area of the law,” she says. “I also wanted to work with oppressed communities. We have a huge mass-incarceration issue in this country that disproportionately affects not only people of color, but people of lower incomes.”
For Billy Price, 2L, the scholarship opened the door to combining his interests in law and business. Price, from Cincinnati, put his business degree to use working at Target’s corporate headquarters. There he came to see how a law career could extend beyond litigation to support a company’s strategy in a more proactive way, such as through protecting intellectual property. The scholarship made it possible to pursue a career in business law.
“I was leaving a career with a paycheck and walking way from any income,” Price says. “I don’t think I could have made the jump if I hadn’t had the support of the scholarship.”
While the scholarship helps students succeed, Bruce and Tracy have also found other ways to give back to their communities. Bruce has chaired the Law School’s Board of Advisors, sat on the Dean’s Advisory Council, served as national president for the U of M Alumni Association, and participated in countless University committees. Meanwhile, in addition to being a grandmother extraordinaire, Tracy Mooty has volunteered in the community with church and hospice-related activities.
“In everything we have done, we’ve always tried to emphasize giving back; that you’re not just there to get something to put on your resume or to get a better job,” Bruce Mooty says. “We want to make sure the people who have a desire to do good in the world and want to be lawyers can get that experience.”