Mary Beth Chopas
Lecturer on Law
Mary Elizabeth Basile Chopas is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School where she teaches Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis in the Graduate Program. Before joining the Graduate Program, she taught Civil Procedure, Legal Ethics, and National Security Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law and Legal Ethics at Duke Law School. During her ten years in the Research Triangle, Chopas participated in the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. In 2015, she was selected to attend the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies Annual Teachers’ Workshop. Prior to her appointments at UNC and Duke, she was a Climenko-Thayer Lecturer on Law at Harvard, and taught at Boston University School of Law and Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Her 2017 book, Searching for Subversives: The Story of Italian Internment in Wartime America (The University of North Carolina Press) analyzes the legal process of selective internment and its lasting effect on communities, and debates how liberal democracies may remain true to democratic values while protecting their citizens from terrorism. She has also published articles in legal history in the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, the Cardozo Law Review, the New England Law Review, and the Journal of Legal Education.
Prior to entering academics, Chopas served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Government Bureau, Trial Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, where she tried cases in state and federal courts and wrote and argued appellate briefs. She also spent several years in private practice as a litigation associate at two law firms in Boston, representing companies in complex commercial, employment, professional liability, products liability, and intellectual property litigation. Upon graduation from law school, Chopas was a law clerk at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Chopas served as a research director for two oral history projects on the history of legal education, one centered at Harvard Law School and the other at Boston College Law School. Currently she is working on a digital history project on Tractatus Universi Iuris for the Ames Foundation at Harvard Law School.
She earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School where her coursework focused on international law, her Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and A.B. in English modified Classics magna cum laude from Dartmouth College, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. After college Chopas studied Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University.
Chopas is a member of the Massachusetts bar.