Mary Ellen O'Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School and a Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Since joining the Notre Dame Law School in 2005, she has taught the courses International Law, International Law and the Use of Force, International Dispute Resolution, International Environmental Law, International Art Law, and Contracts. Prior to joining Notre Dame's faculty, she taught at The Ohio State University (1999–2005), as the William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law in the Moritz College of Law and was a Senior Fellow of the Mershon Center for the Study of International Security and Public Policy. She was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law (1998–1999).
O'Connell has also been an Associate Professor (Title X, Professional Military Educator) for the US-German George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmnisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (1995–1998), a Visiting Professor at the Bologna Center of Johns Hopkins University (1993–1998), a Guest Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany (1993–1995), and an Associate Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (1989–1995, on leave 1993–1995). Prior to beginning her career in academia, she practiced law as an Attorney Associate with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. (1985–1988).
Her educational background includes a Ph.D. (under special regulations) and an LL.B. (Masters of Law, 1st class honors) from Cambridge University, England; a J.D. (multiple honors) from the Columbia University School of Law, New York; an MSc. (Masters of Science) in International Relations from the London School of Economics, England; and a B.A. (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, History Honors) from Northwestern University, Illinois.
Among her many grants, awards, and recognitions are a British Marshall Scholarship, a German Humboldt Foundation Fellowship, a Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law (Cambridge)/MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a U.S. Army Certificate of Achievement, funding from the Mershon Center (OSU) and the Kroc Institute (ND) for an international/inter-disciplinary conference "What is War?" In 2015, she was presented with the University of Notre Dame's Reinhold Niebuhr Award, which honors a person whose life and writing promote or exemplify the area of social justice.
O'Connell's 77 (and counting) major publications (books, articles, and chapters) include 12 books and casebooks. She also has another 23 (and counting) lesser publications. She has been interviewed in or on or published in over 30 networks, newspapers, and magazines. They range from the BBC and NPR to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to the networks Al Jazeerah and ARD (Germany) to Wired and Rolling Stone magazines. In 2012, she was named the Notre Dame Media Legend.
During the 2014–2015 academic year, O'Connell served as the Senior Templeton Foundation Legal Scholar at the Center of Theological Inquiry/Law and Public Affairs (Princeton).
O'Connell is a member of and former Vice President of the American Society of International Law, a fellow of the Center for Theological Inquiry (Princeton Theological Seminary), and a member of the German Society of International Law, the International Institute for Humanitarian Law (San Remo, Italy), the International Law Association, and the American Branch of the International Law Association.
She is married to the decorated combat veteran and Photoshop Hall of Fame member Peter Bauer. They reside not far from the University of Notre Dame campus.