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Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Receives Gift from Founders’ First Freedom



August 25, 2023 – Malibu, CA – Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law is pleased to announce a generous gift from Founders’ First Freedom that will allow the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics to expand its fellows program and launch an annual conference. The Nootbaar Institute draws from a broad range of religious and legal voices on the relationship between law, religion, and ethics—and serves as an umbrella organization for many related activities at Caruso Law.

“We are grateful that Founders’ First Freedom has partnered with us. With their support, we are poised to grow the impact of the Nootbaar Fellows program,” said Michael Helfand, co-director of the institute and the Brendan Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion at Pepperdine Caruso Law. “This community of brilliant and ideologically diverse scholars is committed to sharing and generating innovative research at a time when knowledge and wisdom at the intersection of law and religion is so desperately needed.”

The Nootbaar Fellows program began in the fall of 2020, bringing together leading scholars of the law and religion field from across the United States and around the world to discuss and debate cutting-edge research. Support from Founders’ First Freedom will enable the institute to launch an annual public conference inviting a broader audience into discussions and debates over essential questions at the intersection of law and religion. The annual conference will consist of panels and lectures focused on these pressing issues, providing an opportunity for the Nootbaar Fellows to share their wisdom and knowledge with the wider Pepperdine community.

Founders' First Freedom is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 that promotes liberty of conscience and pursues a cooperative approach to resolving disputes between parties in cases affecting religious freedom. Michael Peabody, president of Founders’ First Freedom is a Caruso law alumnus, (JD ’01, MDR ’01) who has participated in several Nootbaar Conferences, said: “We are so pleased to support the Nootbaar Institute at my alma mater. Their credible and timely work on law and religion is essential to creating positive change in our current world.”

About Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law

The Caruso School of Law offers a top-ranked legal education with nationally recognized degree programs committed to the highest principles of professional, ethical, and societal responsibility. With an emphasis on experiential learning, mentorship, faculty accessibility, global justice, and professional formation, Pepperdine Caruso Law offers a juris doctor, two master’s degrees, six joint-degree programs, seven LLM degrees, and five certificate programs. The School of Law houses several clinics and five institutes, including the globally recognized Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. Follow Pepperdine Caruso School of Law on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University is a private Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in Malibu, California. Rooted in the Christian tradition, Pepperdine is committed to both the relentless pursuit of truth through academic and scholarly excellence and to embodying Christian faith and values. With students at the heart of the educational enterprise, the University prepares approximately 10,300 scholars across its liberal arts school, Seaver College, and its four nationally recognized graduate schools for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.


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