On Monday, Oct. 8, Judge David J. Novak received the 2018-19 St. George Tucker Adjunct Professorship Award during a luncheon at the National Center for State Courts adjacent to William & Mary Law School. The annual award recognizes an outstanding member of the Law School’s adjunct faculty for service on behalf of students, and is selected by nomination from the Law School Community.
A federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Novak teaches National Security Law as an adjunct professor at William & Mary.
During the luncheon, Dean Davison M. Douglas recounted how Judge Novak is extremely committed to his students and their success despite his long days serving on the court.
“What I really admire about Judge Novak as a teacher is his commitment to our students,” Douglas said. “He goes all in. He knows our students extremely well. A lot of them are his interns or his law clerks. He’s deeply interested in their well-being as individuals and in their careers.”
His students also agreed about Judge Novak’s investment in his teaching. One student said that his National Security Law course was “the best organized and most logically structured course that I have taken in law school.” Other students have said he is a “spectacular professor” and a “rock star.”
Judge Novak received his B.S. from St. Vincent College in 1983 and his J.D. from Villanova University in 1986. Prior to being appointed as a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2012, he served as the chief of the criminal division for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he was also a prosecutor. He was a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas as well.
During his acceptance remarks, Judge Novak said it was a privilege to teach William & Mary students. He emphasized how much his students and interns value their education and professors, and he praised the Law School for its efforts.
“As one of your employers…we’re so happy with the job that you’re doing to get them ready for us,” Judge Novak said. “Particularly at this time when the rule of law is a little bit under attack, I think it’s important that you all give those values to them [and] that they understand the important role that they have in this system, so they can lead the way going forward.”
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 19th 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.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.