Leto Copeley

Leto grew up in New Jersey, where her father, a doctor, took her with him on his visits to families living in shacks by the railroad tracks so he could make sure the children had their vaccinations. He taught her that all people deserve to be treated with respect, no matter what their circumstances, and explained that she was no better than those kids in the shacks. Later she decided to become a lawyer when she saw that the court system often didn’t live up to her father’s ideals.

She moved to North Carolina in 1983, right after graduating from Harvard Law School, to work for the Honorable James B. McMillan (a native of McDonald, NC), a federal judge in Charlotte, and never left. She is married to Bert Fisher, a native North Carolinian. The two love to be outdoors, hiking and looking at wildlife, including birds, reptiles and even bugs and snakes. You may find her posting photos online of the strange creatures she finds in the woods or that sometimes manage to sneak into her home. The house is also shared with two very entertaining cats.

Leto has worked to keep the courts open and fair to all, regardless of their circumstances. Throughout her career, she has handled cases of workplace injury and mistreatment, personal injury and wrongful death, and sexual harassment and sex abuse. She enjoys representing individuals since she has never forgotten the early years when she supported herself as an auto parts worker, house cleaner, and waitress.

Leto regularly lectures and advises her colleagues in the law. She has taught in continuing legal education programs sponsored by organizations including the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and the Labor and Employment Section of the American Bar Association. Leto has served in various leadership roles in the North Carolina legal community and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

Leto believes in public service. She is an enthusiastic member of Rotary International and is the recent past president of the Hillsborough, NC chapter. She is also actively involved in her church, St. Philips Episcopal of Durham, where she has served as a youth group leader and on the church vestry (governing board). For four years she served as the American Sign Language interpreter for the church, and in 2010, she was profiled in Law and Politics Magazine in an article entitled “The Interpreter,” which told of her participation as a team interpreter on a medical mission trip to Honduras.  Read about Leto’s recent activities on our blog.

Attorneys Leto Copeley and Valerie Johnson (aka the “Law Sisters“) recently started a new podcast about Sexual Harassment in the workplace.  Learn ways you can protect yourself from Sexual Harassment by listening to their podcast series, Sex at Work, available on the Law Sisters website,  Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayTuneIn, and Stitcher.

 

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Honors and Awards:

  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2005 – present
  • Rated 10.0 (Superb) by Avvo.com
  • Top Fifty Women Lawyers in North Carolina, Law and Politics Magazine, 2006-09, 2014
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers published by Law and Politics Magazine, 2006 – present
  • Rated AV, the highest for legal ability and ethical standards, by Martindale Hubbell, 2001 – present

Areas of Practice:

  • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
  • Sex Abuse/Sexual Harassment
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Workplace Mistreatment/Wrongful Discharge

Education:

  • Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Hunter College of the City University of New York
    • Honors: summa cum laude

Bar Admissions:

  • North Carolina State Bar
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • All U.S. District Courts, North Carolina

Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • American Association for Justice, Member 2000 – present
  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 Lawyers, 2011 – present
  • National Employment Lawyers Association, Member 1993 – present
  • Workers Injury Law & Advocacy Group, Member 1999 – present
  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Member  1993 – present (Chair, Workers’ Compensation Section 2004-5; Co-Chair, Women’s Caucus, 2000-02; Executive Committee, Employment Law Section, 1999-2000; member, Education Committee, 2008-09)
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Member 1984 – present (Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section Council, 2011; Co-chair, CLE Committee, Litigation Section, 2011;  Law Practice Management Section Council, 2008 – 2011; Law School Liaison Committee, 1999-2000; Labor and Employment Law Section Council, 1994-96)
  • North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, Member 1984- present (President, 1998-99; Judicial Endorsements Committee, 1998 – 2005; Board of Directors, 1995 – 2000, 1990-91)
  • North Carolina Judicial District 15B Bar, Member 2004 – present

 

Articles:

Community Activities:

  • Church, St. Philips Episcopal of Durham:  Church Vestry, 2009 – 11;  Hispanic Ministry, 2008; Lay Reader 2008-09; American Sign Language Interpreter, 2009 – 2013; Journey to Adulthood Youth Program Leader, 2001-05
  • Episcopal Diocese – Sponsored Honduras Health Mission, participant 2007, fundraiser and speaker, 2007-09
  • Rotary International, Hillsborough, NC chapter, 2010 – present

 

Languages:

  • English (Primary)
  • Spanish – proficient
  • American Sign Language – proficient

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