She moved to North Carolina in 1983 after graduating from Harvard Law School, to work for Federal District Court Judge James B. McMillan in Charlotte. She fell in love with the state and never left.
Leto has handled cases of sex abuse, sexual harassment workplace injury and mistreatment, personal injury and wrongful death.She has obtained substantial jury verdicts for her clients and has argued and won cases at the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She enjoys representing individuals since she has never forgotten the early years of her life when she supported herself as an auto parts worker, house cleaner, and waitress.
She is married to Bert Fisher, the son of a Methodist minister, who grew up in eastern North Carolina. They both love to be outdoors around wildlife.
Leto regularly presents at seminars for other lawyers. She has taught in continuing legal education programs sponsored by the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar Association, and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. Leto has served in various leadership roles in the legal community, including as President of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.
Leto has a record of community service and is actively involved in her church, St. Philips Episcopal of Durham, where she has served as a youth group leader, lay reader, usher 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. See what our clients think on our Video Testimonial and Client Testimonial pages.
Leto is a co-developer of the “Law Sisters“ podcast, about sexual harassment in the workplace.
List of Appellate Cases:
- Bourque v. Charlotte Diocese (2018): In this case, the attorneys for the victim defeated the diocese’s appeal to the NC Court of Appeals by successfully arguing that the claims of a family whose daughter had been molested by a seminary student hired and supervised by the diocese should not be dismissed.
- Doe v. Raleigh Diocese (2015): In Doe, the victim’s attorneys convinced the North Carolina Court of Appeals that the First Amendment did not prevent the plaintiff – who had been sexually abused by a priest hired and supervised by the diocese – from suing the diocese for its negligent failure to supervise its employee.
- Fu v. University of North Carolina (2008): Ms. Copeley persuaded the North Carolina Court of Appeals to uphold the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s finding that UNC was responsible for workplace injuries caused by vaccines the university required the plaintiff to take as a condition of her employment.
- Haarhuis v. Cheek (“Haarhuis I”) (2017): In Haarhuis I, Leto Copeley and J. David Stradley protected a widower’s verdict against the drunk driver who killed his wife by convincing the North Carolina Court of Appeals to reject the defendant’s motion for a new trial.
- Haarhuis v. Cheek (“Haarhuis II”) (2018): Ms. Copeley won an appeal in a case where the defendant, her lawyers, and her multiple insurance companies attempted to avoid paying damages to a widower by blocking the widower’s attempts to appoint a receiver.
- Masood v. Erwin Oil (2007): Ms. Copeley prevailed in a workers’ compensation appeal by convincing the North Carolina Supreme Court that a franchisee was subject to North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws and had to pay benefits to a convenience store worker who was shot during a robbery.
- McLean v. Patten Communities, Inc (2003): Ms. Copeley convinced the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reject the defendants’ attempts to dismiss the employment discrimination claims of a young African American woman who had been subjected to routine racial and sexual harassment by her supervisor. At the time of this appeal, this opinion was the first Fourth Circuit loss ever experienced by the employers’ lawyer.