Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Claire G. Bopp
December 1, 2022
Growing up the daughter of two attorneys in the Finger Lakes town of Canandaigua, New York, Claire Bopp knew early on she’d go to law school. She remembers telling her dad how she’d one day become a legal consultant for the TV crime drama Law & Order.
[Cue the gung-gung sound.]
“He’d laugh and say, ‘There’s no way that show will still be on by then,’” she says.
Even though the series did become one of the longest-running prime-time shows in TV history – and even recently returned to the airwaves after an 11-year hiatus – Claire followed a different calling.
“I knew in college that I wanted to go to law school after I graduated,” she says. “I didn’t know at 22 what I wanted to do, but I also knew having a law degree would afford me the opportunity to figure that out later. It seemed like the opportunities were endless and diverse. If you get a law degree, it opens the door for you to find your niche.”
So, after earning a bachelor’s degree from Emory University in Atlanta, she headed west to the University of Oregon School of Law.
“I had several friends in undergrad who were from the Pacific Northwest, and I never heard anybody rave about where they’re from more than they did,” Claire says. “I quickly realized why. There’s a great vibe, it’s beautiful and it fit my personality.”
She figured she’d earn her degree and land a job at a firm in Portland or Seattle.
Then, during a visit home for the holidays, she attended a New Year’s Eve party and met Ryan, the man from Buffalo who’d throw a wrench in those plans.
“My plans were foiled by him – in a good way,” Claire says.
After dating long-distance for a year and a half, Claire decided to move back home and take the New York State bar exam. She worked at a Buffalo law firm for a couple of years, then she and Ryan relocated to be closer to Claire’s mother, after she received a breast cancer diagnosis. Since 2018, Claire has been a litigator in the Rochester office of Bond, Schoeneck & King, focusing her practice on medical malpractice defense.
She traces her fascination with litigation back to a clerkship she did right out of law school with the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court in Albany.
“While I was clerking, all of the appeals I was working on started out at the trial level in some form of litigation,” Claire says. “I liked the advocacy piece of it, the adversarial process and also, I really like research and writing. As a litigator, I felt I could do all of those things.”
She found herself drawn to medical malpractice – “med-mal,” for short – because no two cases are alike.
“To this day, I do med-mal defense,” Claire says. “Every case is so different, with different medical procedures as the subject of a lawsuit. I love the interplay between medicine and the law. I’m constantly learning. I attend CLEs (continuing learning education classes) that focus on med-mal issues.”
Before she got started, she had never seen a patient’s chart. That quickly changed.
“It’s funny how you learn as you go,” she says.
She also works on commercial litigation disputes, intellectual property litigation and employment discrimination matters.
“I have diversified my practice,” Claire says. “We have so many different practice groups that I’ve been pulled into lots of different cases. The best part of litigation is it gives you the foundational skill set of being able to research, write and argue effectively, on paper or in court. So, you really can pick up a new substantive area of law and still feel confident in your abilities.”
When she’s not researching a case or caring for her two toddler daughters, Claire enjoys losing herself in a good true crime story.
“I’m a true crime junkie. I listen to podcasts, watch documentary mini-series, you name it.”
It’s the closest she gets to Law & Order. Although, sometimes when she’s arguing a case, she experiences her version of the dramatic, gung-gung moment.
“Sometimes when you know you killed it in an argument – or when the jury comes back with a verdict in your favor, you hear that sound internally.”