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Michael  A. Helfand - Pepperdine University

Michael A. Helfand

Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Faculty and Research
Caruso School of Law



Areas of Expertise

  • Religious liberty and discrimination
  • Intersection of religion and commerce
  • Church and state
  • Jewish law
  • Arbitration law

Dr. Michael Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty with a particular emphasis on clashes between religion and commerce. He is a frequent author and lecturer, focusing on how U.S. law treats religious law, custom and practice.  

Dr. Helfand in the News

Kept from Keeping the SabbathFirst Things

To Avoid the Charge of Anti-Semitism, New York Needs to Make Its COVID Crackdown Standards ClearerJTA News

Religious Discrimination Takes Center Stage at the Supreme CourtTablet Magazine

The First Amendment and the Vocabulary of FreedomJewish Review of Books

Washington Should Fund Ministers’ SalariesWall Street Journal

A Day of Rest May Get a Day in CourtWall Street Journal

Jews as a Bridge on Religious LibertyThe Jewish Week 

Making Faith-Based Institutions InclusiveInside Higher Ed

Is a Prisoner's Beard Dangerous?, Los Angeles Times

Hobby Lobby’s Challenge to Officialdom’s ‘Compelling Interest,' The Washington Times


Full Bio


  • PhD, Yale University
  • JD, Yale University
  • BA, Yeshiva University

Research and Scholarship



Media Appearances

Dr. Michael Helfand is an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law as well as associate director of the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies. He is an expert on religious law and religious liberty, focusing on how U.S. law treats religious law, custom, and practice. A frequent author and lecturer, he has published in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York University Law Review, and Duke Law Journal, as well as in various public audience publications, including the Los Angeles Times and the National Law Journal

Prior to joining the Pepperdine Law faculty, Dr. Helfand was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, where his practice focused on complex commercial litigation. Before entering private practice, Dr. Helfand clerked for the Honorable Julia Smith Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Previous Media Appearances