Professor Michael (Avi) Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty.
A frequent author and lecturer, his work considers how U.S. law treats religious law,
custom and practice, focusing on the intersection of private law and religion in contexts
such as religious arbitration, religious contracts and religious torts. His academic
articles have appeared in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York
University Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Boston University Law
Review, and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. In addition,
Professor Helfand often provides commentary on clashes between law and religion, writing
for various public audience publications, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the
National Law Journal and the Forward. 

Professor Helfand currently serves as an associate professor at Pepperdine University
School of Law and associate director of Pepperdine University's Diane and Guilford
Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies. Since joining the faculty in 2010, he has taught
Contracts, Arbitration Law, and seminars in Law and Religion as well as Multiculturalism
and the Law. In addition, he also serves as both an arbitrator and consultant for the
Beth Din of America. 

Prior to joining the Pepperdine Law faculty, Professor Helfand was an associate at Davis
Polk & Wardwell LLP, where his practice focused on complex commercial litigation.
Before entering private practice, Professor Helfand clerked for the Honorable Julia Smith
Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He received his J.D. from
Yale Law School in 2007 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University in 2009.

Law Review Publications


Arbitration's Counter-Narrative: The Religious Arbitration Paradigm, Yale Law Journal (2015)

Arbitration theory and doctrine is dominated by an overarching narrative that conceptualizes arbitration as an...



Between Law and Religion: Procedural Challenges to Religious Arbitration Awards, Chicago-Kent Law Review (2015)

This Essay presented at the Sharia and Halakha in America Conference explores the unique status...



Religious Institutionalism, Implied Consent and the Value of Voluntarism, Southern California Law Review (2015)

Increasingly, clashes between the demands of law and aspirations of religion center on the legal...



The Challenge of Co-Religionist Commerce (with Barak D. Richman), Duke Law Journal (2015)

This Article addresses the rise of “co-religionist commerce” in the United States—that is, the explosion...



Litigating Religion, Boston University Law Review (2013)

This article considers how parties should resolve disputes that turn on religious doctrine and practice...



Other Academic Publications


Between Law and Religion: Procedural Challenges to Religious Arbitration Awards, Chicago-Kent Law Review (2014)

This Essay presented at the Sharia and Halakha in America Conference explores the unique status...



Beit Din's Gap-Filling Function: Using Beit Din to Protect Your Client (2014)

This article considers how rabbinical courts play an important gap-filling role by providing parties with...



A Liberalism of Sincerity: The Role of Religion in the Public Square, Journal of Law, Religion and State (2013)

This article considers the extent to which the liberal nation-state ought to accommodate religious practices...



What is a "Church"?: Implied Consent and the Contraception Mandate, Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues (2013)

This Article considers the “religious employer” exception to the “contraception mandate” – that is, the...



Purpose, Precedent, and Politics: Why Concepcion Covers Less than You Think, Yearbook on Arbitration & Mediation (2012)

This article sketches some possible limitations on the impact AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion will have...


Expert Testimony

Popular Press



Panelist, “The Current Clash”, Conference on Religious Accommodation in the Age of Civil Rights, Harvard Law School (2014)

Speaker, "Enforcing Co-Religionist Commerce", Fifth Annual Religious Legal Theory Conference, Emory University School of Law (2014)

Speaker, "Enforcing Co-Religionist Commerce", Faculty Workshop, Whittier Law School (2014)

Speaker and Panelist, Interfaith Program on “Religion and Politics: Power and Empowerment”, Faith and Global Engagement, Hong Kong University (2014)