About Mary Noel Pepys

Mary Noel Pepys is a senior attorney specializing in the rule of law, specifically international legal and judicial reform. Since 1993 she has helped emerging democracies develop justice systems that ensure the protection of citizens’ human rights, equal treatment of all individuals before the law, and a predictable legal structure with fair, transparent, and effective government institutions.

With her knowledge of common law and civil law principles, Mary Noel Pepys has provided legal and technical assistance to national governments, the judiciary, the legal profession, and law faculties.  

Mary Noel with Latvian judges
Mary Noel Pepys with Latvian Judges

She has worked in over 45 countries within the former Soviet Union and the Soviet-controlled Eastern bloc,Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Western Europe. 

From 1993 to 1998, she served as a Rule of Law Liaison with the American Bar Association and lived in Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Croatia. Mary Noel Pepys was commended for her five-year volunteer service with the ABA during its annual meeting in 2016. To view, click here. Mary Noel Pepys spoke during the ABA annual meeting in 1997 at which Justice Sandra Day O’Connor introduced her. View the speech and introduction.

Mary Noel Pepys also served for 20 months in Afghanistan as the Justice Advisor for the U.S. Department of State from 2008-2009. Her work focused on strengthening the criminal justice and correctional systems.

A pictorial account of her life and work in Afghanistan as a civilian assistance provider can be viewed by clicking here. Mary Noel Pepys was interviewed by the Legal Times in 2008 regarding her work in Afghanistan.

Following the withdrawal of American forces in 2021, Mary Noel Pepys wrote an opinion piece about her perspective on America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Mary Noel Pepys’ clients include:

  • U.S. Department of State,
  • U.S. Agency for International Development,
  • The World Bank,
  • United Nations Development Programme, and
  • U.S. rule of law contractors.

I have never met such a missionary of American goodwill as Mary Noel Pepys. She was the best ambassador in my country of American knowledge, power, and values. She is highly intelligent and experienced, yet never demonstrated those skills in a demeaning manner. Her warm behavior made her the most beloved teacher and friend of all of us who had the opportunity to work with her towards establishing the rule of law in Bulgaria.


Before developing the rule of law in emerging democracies, Mary Noel Pepys worked extensively with federal, state, and local governments in the areas of legislative drafting, governmental transparency, and diplomacy. She helped to develop the international peacekeeping force located in the Sinai, Multinational Force & Observers, and also worked in private practice in San Francisco at Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe specializing in law use law.  

As a result of her international and domestic legal experience, Mary Noel Pepys was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the Board of Directors of University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings) in 2012 for a twelve-year term.