In 1917 Professors Moomaw and Dodd resigned from the Washington and Lee law faculty to participate in World War I. Because of decreased enrollment only one of these positions was filled. The board of trustee minutes for June 1917 record that "Judge James Quarles of Louisville, Kentucky, was elected Professor of Law." He was always referred to as "Judge," though he spent only four years on the bench of a Kentucky county circuit court.
At W&L he taught Corporations, Equity, Contracts, Negotiable Instruments, and Real Property. His teaching method relied on textbooks and lectures. He made frequent reference to cases he had decided as a judge. A member of the class of 1918 complained of having survived "the ordeal of the case system experiment under Mr. Dodd" only to fall "victim to Judge Quarles’ new system of lectures." A 1919 alumnus recalled hearing "the Judge elaborate upon the opinions he handed down from the Kentucky bench." In July 1919 Quarles left W&L to accept a position with the War Risk Insurance Bureau. In 1920 he became counsel to the Interstate Commerce Commission.
James Quarles was born in Lexington, Missouri in 1868. In 1886 his father, James Addison Quarles, moved to Lexington, Virginia become professor of philosophy at Washington and Lee University. The younger Quarles entered the Washington and Lee School of Law graduating with a B.L. degree in 1889. Ironically his father, James A. Quarles, recommended to the rector of the university that the law school be discontinued because of declining enrollments and insufficient financial support.
Upon graduation from W&L law school, James Quarles practiced law in Louisville, Kentucky before and after his term as judge of the chancery division of the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Louisville, Kentucky from 1911-1915. After his two years at W&L and two years of government service, Quarles returned to private practice first in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and, in 1931, in Washington, D.C. Quarles retired to his wife’s hometown of Staunton, Virginia, where he died in 1950.