William & Mary Law School Dean A. Benjamin Spencer said Chavis is “a superb scholar and teacher, who also has an exceptional record of academic service.” One of his top goals as dean, he said, “is to grow our faculty by hiring outstanding, high-impact scholars like Professor Chavis.”
Chavis received her bachelor’s degree with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating from Harvard Law School, where she was an Earl Warren Scholar, she practiced law in Washington, D.C., at Latham & Watkins and at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. She then became an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, where she was involved in a wide range of criminal prosecutions and briefed and argued appeals before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Chavis began her academic career at Wake Forest Law School in 2006 and was promoted to full professor in 2012. She has taught courses related to criminal law, criminal procedure, and policing and prosecutorial accountability. Her research focuses on a variety of criminal justice issues such as police and prosecutorial accountability, law enforcement and technology, federal hate crimes legislation and enforcement, racial profiling, and bias in jury selection. Her scholarship has appeared in legal journals such as the Illinois Law Review, American Criminal Law Review, the Howard Law Journal, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, the University of Alabama Law Review, and the Catholic University Law Review. Shorter works have appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, USA Today, and other outlets.
Her expert commentary has appeared in numerous media outlets such as the BBC News, CNN, NPR, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal. She is a member of the American Law Institute and has served as a Senior Fellow of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas School of Law, the George Washington University School of Law, and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. At Wake Forest, she served as the law school’s Associate Dean of Research and Public Engagement and is founder and inaugural director of its Criminal Justice Program.
Chavis’s predecessor in the Haynes Professorship at William & Mary Law School is Professor Paul Marcus. Marcus will retire from the faculty in May. He is an internationally known scholar of criminal law and procedure, jury behavior, and copyright. His accolades are numerous. The university honored him with the Graves Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, and he has received the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, the Commonwealth’s highest honor for professors. A three-time winner of the Law School’s Walter L. Williams, Jr., Memorial Teaching Award, which is selected by the graduating 3L class, he was named the inaugural Herbert V. Kelley, Sr., Professor for Excellence in Teaching at the Law School and is a recipient of the McGlothlin Award for Exceptional Teaching.
“Professor Chavis will be a wonderful addition to the faculty,” Marcus said. “A gifted teacher and scholar, she will continue her thoughtful work on our justice system. Professor Chavis is a very important participant in the ongoing discussions nationally on how to promote individual liberty and privacy while maintaining effective law enforcement.”
Chavis has most recently held two senior leadership positions at Wake Forest University including Associate Provost of Academic Initiatives and, more recently, Vice Provost. As Vice Provost, she manages many of the university’s academic and strategic initiatives and her portfolio of responsibilities includes the Office of Civic & Community Engagement, the Humanities Institute, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the Office of Online Education, the Professional Development Center, the Title IX Office, Wake Forest University Press, and the Wake Forest Slavery, Race, and Memory Project.
Upon joining William & Mary Law School, Chavis plans to pursue the creation of a Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Reform, which would have five areas of focus: (1) ensuring democratic policing, (2) advancing prosecutorial ethics, (3) addressing community violence without contributing to mass incarceration, (4) the responsible use of technology in law enforcement, and (5) transparency in jury selection.
“I am thrilled to join the esteemed faculty of William & Mary Law School. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues and students on scholarship and initiatives that address the most difficult issues in criminal justice today,” said Chavis.
About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.