Annual Conference

SOL, Nootbar, Annual Conferences - Lecture hall

Every year, the Nootbaar Institute hosts a conference on an important and thought provoking topic. Addressing a wide range of issues such as religious freedom, human rights, and diversity, the Institute seeks to bring top scholars, lawyers, students, and the community together to ultimately have a positive impact on society. 

Wisdom, Law, and Lawyers

February 27 - 28, 2015

Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, California

At a time when law is seen by many as purely a matter of power politics and the lawyer's role as purely a matter of pursuing client economic interests, we want to consider how wisdom should influence deliberations in legislative chambers, courts, and lawyers' offices. Both theoretical wisdom and practical wisdom have much to say about law. We hope to learn from many traditions, both religious and secular. Please join us for the conversation.

The following speakers are already confirmed:

  • William S. Brewbaker III, William Alfred Rose Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law

  • Jonathan Burnside, Professor of Biblical Law, University of Bristol, England

  • Alberto R. Coll, Professor of Law, Director, European and Latin American Legal Studies Program, Director, International Law LL.M. Program, DePaul University College of Law

  • Daisy Hurst Floyd, Dean and University Professor of Law and Ethical Formation, Mercer University School of Law

  • Samuel J. Levine, Professor of Law & Director, Jewish Law Institute, Touro Law Center

  • Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

  • Benjamin V. Madison III, Professor and Co-Director of Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform, Regent University School of Law

  • Rick Marrs, Provost and Professor of Religion, Pepperdine University

  • Russell G. Pearce, Edward & Marilyn Bellet Professor of Legal Ethics, Morality and Religion Fordham University School of Law

  • Ellen Pryor, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, UNT Dallas College of Law

  • Michael Scaperlanda, Gene and Elaine Edwards Family Chair in Law and Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law

  • Brett Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs, J Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

  • Steven D. Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law and Co-Executive Director, Institutes for Law & Religion and Law & Philosophy, University of San Diego

  • Susan Stabile, Professor of Law and Faculty Fellow for Spiritual Life, University of St. Thomas School of Law

  • Deanell Reece Tacha, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean, Pepperdine University School of Law

  • David VanDrunen, Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics, Westminster Seminary, California

  • Cheryl Wattley, Professor of Law, UNT Dallas College of Law

  • R. George Wright, Lawrence A. Jegen III Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Conference Themes

The conference will be organized around three general themes:

1. The Nature of Wisdom – What do our traditions teach about the nature of wisdom? Speakers are likely to address the conference topics from Greek, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and Confucian perspectives.

2. Wisdom and Law - The Hebrew and Christian Bibles' Wisdom Literature identify wisdom as both a source of law (by wisdom "lawgivers establish justice," Proverbs 8:15) and an end of law (God's ordinances "make wise the foolish, Psalms 19). What is (and what should be) the relationship between wisdom and law? How might wisdom influence some of the issues that confront nations today?

3. Wisdom and Lawyers – In recent decades, legal profession scholars have identified practical wisdom as the key lawyer virtue. Have developments in the profession and the legal market made it more difficult for lawyers to exercise that virtue. In today's legal world, can lawyers or clients be, in Jesus's phrase, both "wise as serpents and innocent as doves"? How should wisdom influence a lawyer's work? Is it even possible for wisdom to influence a lawyer's work in the current state of the legal profession?


If you have questions about the substance of the conference, contact Bob Cochran at

For questions about the details of the conference, contact the Nootbaar Institute office by email, or by phone, (310) 506-6978.

The conference is co-sponsored by Pepperdine's Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics and The Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies.

All our best,
Bob Cochran & Michael Helfand

Robert F. Cochran, Jr.
Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law and
Director, Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics
Pepperdine University School of Law
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, California 90263-4611
(310) 506-4684

Michael A. Helfand
Associate Professor, Pepperdine University School of Law
Associate Director, Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
(310) 506-7694

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