Fall 2023


Peter H. DeHaas, ’63: Boosting Financial Independence for Future Generations

By Annie Hagstrom

A portrait of Peter H. DeHaas, ’63.
Peter H. DeHaas, ’63

Peter H. DeHaas, ’63, spent his career working toward financial freedom—an aspirational goal that he was able to achieve with a little help along the way. With gratitude for the financial aid he received as a student, DeHaas recently established a $12 million trust to help the next generation of Michigan Law students achieve their career and financial aims.

“One of the main ideas that I developed growing up was to make sure that no one—repeat, no one—could economically control my life by how much they did or did not pay me,” DeHaas says. “I wanted to make sure that at the earliest age possible, I was in control of the rest of my life on a financially independent basis. I hope this scholarship fund helps others achieve the same freedom.”

After graduating from Amherst College in 1960, DeHaas wasn’t certain about his professional future. “The three main avenues that led away from Amherst were medicine, law, and academics,” he says. Despite a history of medical practice in his family, he thought his strengths would be better exercised elsewhere. DeHaas chose to pursue a law degree and matriculated at Michigan Law after receiving advice—and financial support—from his mentor, Kurt Enoch, a publishing magnate who co-founded Albatross Books, Penguin Books Inc., and New American Library. 

Following his graduation from Michigan Law, DeHaas took an international legal studies fellowship with the Ford Foundation before joining Humes, Andrews & Botzow and later Havens, Wandless, Stitt & Tighe in New York. After five years of practicing law, where his portfolio included corporate takeovers and mergers and acquisitions, he decided to combine his legal expertise and financial acumen to make a career pivot into finance.

DeHaas was hired by a large investment management firm, Scudder, Stephens, & Clark Inc., in New York, where he worked as an associate researcher for three years. He went on to join Lehman Brothers and advised clients on domestic and foreign institutional asset management for more than two decades. He left Lehman Brothers in 1996 to found his own firm, Peter H. DeHaas Investments, which focused on international institutional clients and high-net-worth individuals. In recent years, DeHaas also served as chairman and executive chairman at QRD, a strategy consulting firm focused on research and data collection.

Once he had achieved the financial stability he had long worked toward, DeHaas decided it was time to support current students facing similar circumstances. 

“That self-imposed definition of the word ‘enough,’ in my case, came into play,” he says. His gift, which is in the form of two charitable remainder unitrusts, will establish the Peter H. DeHaas ’63 Law School Scholarship Fund at the end of the trust terms. The fund will support students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and those who have demonstrated an interest in careers within legal aid and government service. 

DeHaas says that his good fortune has provided an opportunity to give back—both to the students themselves and to the communities they will serve.

“The people who most need legal help are the ones, in my opinion, who can least afford it,” he says. “That’s the sum and substance of why I set up these trusts, to benefit students at Michigan Law and to encourage them to provide legal services for people who don’t have access to them.”