William & Mary Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas recently presented the 2011-12 St. George Tucker Adjunct Professorship Award to Christopher A. Abel, a 1990 graduate of the Law School and a partner in the Norfolk, Va., offices of Troutman Sanders. The award, presented during a luncheon at the Alumni House, is given annually to a member of the adjunct faculty for outstanding service.
In his remarks, Douglas said that Abel "has done a marvelous job teaching ... and has been very committed to our students and to their success." To illustrate this, he shared excerpts from evaluations submitted by students in Abel's courses. "Professor Abel is one of the best professors at William & Mary, " wrote one. "I would take any course he teaches." Another noted, "I love Professor Abel. He is one of the best instructors I have had in law school. I kind of wish I wasn't graduating so that I could take his admiralty course next year."
Douglas said he considers it special praise when a student credits a professor with shaping his or her career path. One of Abel's students wrote that taking a class with him was "the highlight of my law school experience. I now believe that I will practice employment law."
Abel is a partner in Troutman Sanders' Maritime Law and Government Contracts Group. Prior to joining the firm, he was a Coast Guard commissioned officer for 16 years, where he rose to the rank of commander. During part of his military career, he served in the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps and later served as the Coast Guard's principal assistant legal officer for the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to his J.D. from William & Mary Law School, he holds a B.A. in government from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a M.A. in international relations from Old Dominion University, and a certificate in the history of strategy and policy from the U.S. Naval War College.
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.