Campus & Community

Law professor David A. Charny dies at 44

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Employment and corporate law specialist David A. Charny, the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, died unexpectedly, after a brief illness, on Thursday, Aug. 31. He was a resident of Cambridge.

“All of us at Harvard Law School are shocked and saddened by David Charny’s death,” said Dean Robert C. Clark. “David was a genius — a brilliant scholar and a wonderful teacher. He has left us much too soon.”

Charny was born on Sept. 16, 1955, in Pittsburgh. After graduating from H. Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, Charny received the B.A. summa cum laude, with exceptional distinction, in 1977 from Yale University, and the J.D. magna cum laude in 1982 from Harvard Law School. He served as law clerk to Judge Malcolm R. Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1982 to 1983 and to the late Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. from 1983 to 1984.

He joined the Harvard faculty in 1984 as assistant professor of law, became professor of law in 1991, and the David Berg Professor of Law in 1999. His research interests concerned comparative aspects of corporate law, employment law, healthcare regulation, and public choice theory.

A popular instructor whose teaching style always received high praise in student evaluations, Charny taught many courses, including Contracts, Corporations, Law and Moral Decision-Making, Legal Theory, and Employment Law.

His publications included “Workers and Corporate Governance: The Role of Political Culture,” The Employee in the Corporation (Brookings Institution, 1999); “Efficiency, Wages, Tournaments, and Discrimination: A Theory of Employment Discrimination for ‘High-Level’ Jobs,” 33 Harv. C.R.-C.L. Law Rev. 57 (1998); “Illusions of a Spontaneous Order: ‘Norms’ in Contractual Relationships,” 144 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1841 (1996); and “The Employee Welfare State in Transition,” 74 Tex. L. Rev. 1601 (1996).

He leaves his parents, E. Joseph Charny and Margaret K. Charny of Pittsburgh; a sister, Sharon Charny of Baltimore; a brother, Joel R. Charny, his brother’s wife Marianne J. Charny, and their children, Matthew Charny and Claire Charny, all of Washington, D.C.; and a wide circle of friends, including his partner, Ahmad H. Tabari of Dubai.

Services and burial in Pittsburgh were private. A memorial service will be held at Harvard University at a later date.