When John C. McCoid, II retired from the University of Virginia School of Law after 36 years in 1994, he noted: “I can’t imagine – after having been here – wanting to go anywhere else.” McCoid received his B.A. in 1950 and LL.B. in 1953 from Vanderbilt University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review and a Founder's Medalist. He then served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy before joining the Virginia Law faculty in 1957. During his tenure at Virginia, McCoid wrote numerous law review articles and an influential civil procedure casebook, Civil Procedure Cases and Materials (1974). Among the many courses he taught were Bankruptcy, Civil Procedure, Conflicts of Law, Insurance, and Legal Ethics. He became the Armistead M. Dobie Professor in 1970 and the O.M. Vicars Professor in 1987, and was the Hunton & Williams Research Professor in 1990-92.
McCoid relied upon the Socratic method not only in the classroom, but with his colleagues, working through questions and cases rather than relying upon rules. As his colleague George Rutherglen wrote, “It is rare to find a law professor as interested as John in discovering what the limits of any general statement about the law might be.” This approach earned him the respect of law faculty and students throughout his teaching career. A dozen members of the class of 1971 surprised McCoid by showing up at the last class he taught at Virginia Law. As former student and fellow faculty member Earl C. Dudley put it: “John McCoid walked a wonderful tightrope between gentle decency and bracing intellectual challenge. He was not called ‘The Cobra’ for nothing.”