Verner F. Chaffin

Fuller E. Callaway Chair of Law Emeritus

A.B., LL.B., University of Georgia

J.S.D., Yale University

Biographical Information: 

Verner F. Chaffin joined the University of Georgia School of Law faculty in 1958 and was appointed as the Fuller E. Callaway Chair of Law in 1969. He retired from the law school's full-time faculty in 1989.

Specializing in the fields of wills and trusts, federal estate and gift taxation, future interests, estate planning and the administration of decedents’ estates and trusts, Chaffin’s scholarship includes several books and innumerable articles including Georgia Annotations to the Restatement (Second) Trusts, Studies in the Georgia Law for Decedents’ Estates and Future Interests and The Rule Against Perpetuities in Georgia. Because of his interest in probate law reform, he was a prolific writer for legal publications and served as of counsel in several landmark cases concerning fiduciary law.

A native of Toccoa, Georgia, Chaffin received his undergraduate degree with honors from UGA in 1939. He then earned his law degree summa cum laude from the university in 1942. Following graduation, Chaffin was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II and the Korean War as an intelligence officer and Japanese linguist. After the war, he served as attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Chaffin began his distinguished teaching career in 1947 at the University of Alabama. After 11 years in Alabama, he returned to Georgia Law in 1958 as a full professor. While serving as a UGA faculty member, Chaffin was awarded a Sterling Fellowship for graduate study at the Yale University School of Law, where he earned a J.S.D. in 1961. Despite overtures from other schools, Chaffin left UGA only twice – in 1974 and 1985 to teach at the University of North Carolina and the University of Alabama, respectively.

He has been recognized for his contributions to the legal field by receiving the Author’s Court Award for Outstanding Legal Writing by a Member of the State Bar of Georgia and being the first recipient of the Verner F. Chaffin Career Service Award established in 2000 "in recognition of a distinguished career of outstanding, unselfish and dedicated service to the Fiduciary Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia, its members and the citizens of Georgia." In 2012, he received the American Law Institute's 50-year membership medallion for his continuous service to the prestigious legal education society.

As an alumnus, Chaffin served as secretary of the law school’s alumni association for 29 years, after which he was given the title secretary emeritus. In 1989, he was recognized by the Law School Association for his commitment to furthering the mission of the school with its Distinguished Service Scroll Award.  Additionally, there are several law school initiatives named for this beloved professor. They include:  the Verner F. Chaffin Chair in Fiduciary Law; the Verner F. Chaffin Endowment Fund, which supports an annual cash award for a student who earns the highest grade in the school’s introductory fiduciary law course; and the Verner F. Chaffin Society, which is for those who make planned gifts to the law school.