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W. Stancil Starnes

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2018.


W. Stancil (Stan) Starnes, the eldest child of Stancil R. and Peggy Starnes, attended the public schools of Birmingham and Jefferson County, graduating from Shades Valley High School in 1965 at the age of 16. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Commerce and Business Administration. In 1972, he graduated summa cum laude and first in his class from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. While in law school he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.

In 1975, Starnes and his father established the law firm now known as Starnes Davis Florie, specializing in courtroom advocacy for a wide variety of clients in civil litigation. His career as a trial advocate took him to courtrooms all over Alabama and beyond. He defended physicians and others in healthcare for his entire career. He also represented a host of national and international clients. Starnes authored the Alabama Medical Liability Act which was enacted by the Legislature in 1987, as well as the subsequent amendments to the Act. For many years, he represented The University of Alabama in its litigation matters.

One national publication described him as “the kind of lawyer you turn to when the chips are down and you need the best.” He was named to the “Best Lawyers in America” for over 20 consecutive years.
Starnes was elected to the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers in 1989, an organization comprised of less than one percent of the lawyers in the United States. He was the youngest lawyer from Alabama ever so selected. He served for over twenty years on the Supreme Court of Alabama Advisory Committee on the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and was named Chairman of the committee in 1998.

In 2006, he joined Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the nation’s premier general contractors, as its President for Corporate Planning and Administration. In 2007 he was named CEO of ProAssurance Corporation, a position he continues to hold. Under Starnes’ leadership, ProAssurance has expanded so that it now writes one or more of its insurance products in all 50 states from its offices throughout the United States, its Captive facility in the Cayman Islands, and through its Lloyd’s Syndicate in London. During each year Starnes has been with ProAssurance, it has been named one of the top fifty casualty insurance carriers in the United States out of a universe of over 3,500 carriers. During his tenure, ProAssurance has successfully transformed itself from a physician-centric, regional, mono-line insurance company to a healthcare-centric, national, specialty insurance company, offering a range of products including physician and hospital professional liability, workers compensation, and life sciences.

Starnes has served on a number of community and not-for-profit boards. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of ProAssurance, National Bank of Commerce, and Ascension, the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the United States. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System and the UAB Health System Board. He was named the outstanding Alumnus of Cumberland School of Law in 2002 and was the inaugural Scholar in Residence at Cumberland in 2005.

Starnes and his wife, Joan White Starnes, are blessed with three children and seven grandchildren.

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