Alyssa  DiRusso
Whelan W. and Rosalie T. Palmer Professor of Law
Cumberland School of Law
239D Robinson Hall
Curriculum Vitae
Alyssa DiRusso specializes in trusts and estates, tax and related areas of law. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and serves on the Members Consultative Group for the Restatement of the Law of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations. She is also an elected Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). DiRusso served as the associate editor of the peer-reviewed ACTEC Law Journal from 2018-20 and as editor in chief from 2020-22. She has been admitted to practice in Massachusetts (inactive), Alabama and before the United States Supreme Court.

DiRusso teaches Wills, Trusts and Estates, Estate and Gift Tax, Estate and Trust Administration, and Federal Income Tax. She has received multiple awards for her commitment to teaching. DiRusso joined the Cumberland School of Law faculty and the Birmingham community in 2005, after practicing as a trusts and estates attorney in Boston, Massachussets, since 1999.

In Boston, DiRusso served as in-house counsel to Bank of America (and its predecessor Fleet National Bank), advising the bank's wealth management and charitable lines of business. In this role, she was responsible for legal issues relevant to wills, trusts and charities in nine different states, as well as national issues including the bank's corporate private foundation and donor advised fund. Before accepting her post at the bank, DiRusso was an associate attorney in the Trusts and Estates department of Choate Hall and Stewart, a large Boston law firm. As an associate, she drafted wills and trusts, administered estates, and created and advised nonprofit organizations.

DiRusso earned her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law where she graduated in the top 10% of her class and was Order of the Coif. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University where she graduated in the top 5% of her college class, Phi Beta Kappa.

DiRusso is the author of more than a dozen law review articles and other publications. Her research interests include wills, trusts, intestacy, tax, and tax-exempt charitable organizations. She is a frequent presenter of her research at national and international conferences. Her publications have appeared in journals such as the Utah Law Review, Indiana Law Review and Vanderbilt Law Review.

Teaching & Research Interests

Wills, Trusts and Estates, Estate and Gift Tax, Estate and Trust Administration, Taxation of Nonprofit Organizations, and Federal Income Tax

Practice Experience

  • Private Bank Counsel, Bank of America Corporation/FleetBoston Financial Corporation Boston, Mass.
  • Associate Attorney (Trusts and Estates Department); Choate, Hall, and Stewart; Boston, Mass.

Degrees and Certifications

  • JD, University of Texas School of Law, Order of the Coif-Top 10%
  • BS, Psychology (also majored in professional writing), Carnegie Mellon University, Phi Beta Kappa-Top 5%


  • Wills, Trusts and Estates, Estate and Gift Tax, Estate and Trust Administration, Taxation of Nonprofit Organizations, and Federal Income Tax

Awards and Honors

  • Harvey S. Jackson Teaching Excellence Award (2009, 2013)
  • Lightfoot, Franklin & White Junior Faculty Scholarship Award (2007, 2010)


  • Trusts and Estates in Focus (Wolters Kluwer textbook)(with Naomi Cahn and Susan Gary).
  • A Proposed Tax Break for the Masses Designed to Spur Charitable Giving, Chicago Tribune, (October 4, 2018), originally published by The Conversation, available here (October 4, 2018).
  • Planning for the Daily Care of a Minor in the Event of an Adult’s Incapacity or Death, in Tax, Estate, and Lifetime Planning for Minors(Carmina Y. D’Aversa, ed., American Bar Association)(2018)(with Naomi Cahn).
  • “Wealth Management Planning to Shift Revenue from Federal to State and Local Government,” Probate & Property, Vol. 31, No. 2, p. 46-49 (March/April 2017).
  • Charitable Donations to Nonprofit Employers, 51 Real Property, Trust & Estate L. J. 267 (with Bradley Foster)(2016).
  • Pro and Con (Law): Considering the Irrevocable Nongrantor Trust Technique, 67 Vand. L. Rev. 101 (2014).
  • Charity at Work: Proposing a Charitable Flexible Spending Account, 2014 Utah L. Rev. 281 (2014).

Publications and Presentations Publications on SSRN


  • United States Supreme Court Bar (admitted 2013)
  • Licensed Attorney – Massachusetts (1999; inactive); Alabama (2013)
  • Member, The American Law Institute (Elected 2013)
  • Academic Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (Elected 2014)
  • Executive Committee, Association of American Law Schools Trusts & Estates Section (2013-2016)
  • Member, Association of American Law Schools (Nonprofit & Philanthropy Law and Trusts & Estates Sections)
  • Contributing Editor: JOTWELL, TRUSTS & ESTATES (2010-2014)
  • Alabama Leadership Initiative Class of 2012