Stephen P. Carney '72, J.D. '80 was recently honored with the 2013-14 St. George Tucker Adjunct Professorship Award from William & Mary Law School. Presented during a luncheon at the Alumni House on Sept. 4, the award is given annually to a member of the adjunct faculty for outstanding service.
In Carney’s case, outstanding not only means his commitment, since 2006, of returning to his alma mater to teach insurance law, but in getting to and from his alma mater to do so. Once a week for 14 weeks, Carney spends a whirlwind day driving 200 miles from Baltimore to Williamsburg, meeting with students to talk about their papers, teaching in the late afternoon, and then driving home.
In presenting the Adjunct Professorship Award, Dean Davison Douglas noted that despite the long commute, Carney receives high praise from students for being accessible when needed.
“As I read through his [students’] comments, one thing that stands out from his students is how available he is to answer their questions,” Douglas said. “One student emphasized that Professor Carney ‘is very interested in individual student success, within and outside of the classroom.’”
Douglas added that Carney’s expertise garnered high praise. “It’s natural, given that he spent 17 years as general counsel to an insurance company,” Douglas said. “Several students have spoken to how valuable it is to be taught by someone with such vast knowledge of the subject matter, and with such practical expertise.”
Carney received his undergraduate degree from William & Mary in 1972 and later graduated from the Law School as one of the most outstanding students in his class, having worked as a legal writing instructor and an associate editor of the Law Review. Following graduation, he served as law clerk to the Honorable J. Calvitt Clarke, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and then joined the Venable firm in Baltimore, where he remained until 1988, when he became general counsel of Medical Mutual. In 2005, he joined the law firm of Funk & Bolton in Baltimore, where he remains today.
Carney has also served many years on the Law School Alumni Association Board and on the Law School Foundation Board as a trustee and as president, and has been active in the Law School Co-Counsel program. In 2011, he was inducted as an honorary member of the Order of the Coif.
“Giving back” is one big factor Carney mentioned when he shared thoughts about his teaching connection to the Law School. But he admitted that he gets as well as he gives.
“I really enjoy the experience of teaching, and, frankly, I keep learning. I have to learn, I have to stay ahead of the students, and they’re tough,” he said. “But I keep coming back, primarily because the atmosphere, the collegiality that exists here, is unparalleled. And I hope it never changes.”
St. George Tucker (1752-1827), the second professor of law at William & Mary, succeeded George Wythe on the faculty and was a pioneer in legal education. He drafted a formal description of the requirements for a law degree at the College, which included an exacting schedule of qualifying examinations in subjects such as history and government. Tucker's course material was published in 1803 as the first American edition of Blackstone's Commentaries. For much of the early nineteenth century, this volume was considered the leading authority on American law. Tucker was also a distinguished judge, serving on both the state and federal benches for more than 30 years.