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Meet Our People

Michael Helfand, Brenden Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion and Co-Director of the Nootbaar Institute 

Michael Helfand - Nootbaar Institute Director

Professor Michael 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 the Southern California Law Review. In addition, Professor Helfand often provides commentary on clashes between law and religion, writing for various public audience publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Forward, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Professor Helfand joined the Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty in 2010 where he has taught Contracts, Arbitration Law, Law and Religion, and Jewish Law. Professor Helfand also regularly serves as Visiting Professor and Oscar M. Ruebhausen Distinguished Fellow at Yale Law School as well as Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. 

Prior to joining the Pepperdine Caruso 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. View full bio >

Jennifer Lee Koh, Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Nootbaar Institute

Jennifer Lee Koh, Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Nootbaar Institute

Professor Jennifer Koh joined the Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty in 2021 and brings an extensive background in teaching, scholarship and service to the law school. Her research focuses on the convergence of the immigration enforcement and criminal legal systems; the legal frameworks governing deportation, particularly streamlined procedures taking place outside the immigration courts; and the federal courts' treatment of immigration claims. Her scholarship has appeared in journals such as the Yale Law Journal, Washington University Law Review, Southern California Law Review, Stanford Law Review Online, Duke Law Journal Online, North Carolina Law Review, Florida Law Review, and Wisconsin Law Review. Various federal courts—including the United States Supreme Court—have cited Professor Koh's scholarship. She has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Law360, Orange County Register and various other media outlets and podcasts.

In addition, Professor Koh’s scholarship has also focused on the intersection of law and religion. She has written about the impact of Christians conceptions of love on immigration law discourse in the U.S., and has spoken on immigration and social justice to numerous faith-based audiences across the country. For the past decade, she has been active at NewSong Church in Santa Ana, CA.

Professor Koh teaches Criminal Law and Evidence at Pepperdine. She has also taught doctrinal courses in Immigration Law, Administrative Law and the Legal Profession, and directed clinical programs and supervised students in a wide range of immigration matters. Most recently, she held visiting faculty positions at UC Irvine School of Law and the University of Washington School of Law. She began her teaching career as a teaching fellow and lecturer at Stanford Law School, and served on the full-time faculty at Western State College of Law.

Professor Koh received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. from Yale University. Earlier in her career, she clerked for the Honorable Eugene H. Nickerson of the Eastern District of New York, directed a community lawyering project aimed at serving Asian immigrant survivors of domestic abuse at Sanctuary for Families' Center for Battered Women's Legal Services in New York City, and a litigation associate in the New York and Palo Alto offices of the law firm WilmerHale. View full bio.

Allyse Wesolowski

Allyse Wesolowski

Prior to joining the Pepperdine Caruso Law staff, Allyse Wesolowski received her M.A. in philosophy from California State University under the supervision of Mark Balaguer.  Throughout her time there, she did a tremendous amount of work studying matters of theology, ethics and metaphysics.  These areas of interest drew her towards the Nootbaar Institute, as Allyse enjoys to see these issues discussed through the lens of the law.  After teaching philosophy for multiple years at Ashford University, she took a break to focus on her two beautiful children.  Allyse hopes to support the growth of the Nootbaar Institute while she serves as the institute's senior manager.

Rabbi Sholom Eagle Jewish Studies Scholar-in-Residence

Rabbi Sholom Eagle Jewish Studies Scholar-in-Residence

Rabbi Sholom Eagle was ordained by the West Coast Rabbinical Seminary in 2016. Prior to that, he completed his rabbinical studies and education in Israel and the US. Rabbi Eagle's passions include Jewish outreach, community building, and faith-based rehabilitation programs. Throughout his studies, Rabbi Eagle volunteered with communities across Asia and Europe and worked together with the Aleph Institute, an organization dedicated to assisting and caring for the wellbeing of U.S. military personnel, prisoners, and people institutionalized or at risk of incarceration due to mental illness or addictions. Above all, he loves being able to teach and uplift those around him, bringing them together and meeting the needs of the Jewish community.

Robert F. Cochran, Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law Emeritus and Founding Director of the Nootbaar Institute

Bob Cochran head shot blue background

Robert F. Cochran, Jr. is one of the leading scholars in the fields of law, religion and ethics. He is the Louis D. Brandeis Professor Emeritus of Law as well as the founding director of the Nootbaar Institute. In addition, Professor Cochran currently serves as a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. 

Professor Cochran has written and edited several books on the subjects of law, religion, and ethics, including Agape, Justice and Law: How Might Christian Love Shape Law?, Cambridge University Press (2017); Law and the Bible, IVP (2013); Lawyers, Clients, and Moral Responsibility, 2nd ed. West (2009); Cases and Materials on the Legal Profession, 3rd ed. (2002); The Counselor-at-Law: A Collaborative Approach to Client Interviewing and Counseling, 3rd ed. Matthew Bender (2014); Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought, Yale University Press (2001); Law and Community: The Case of Torts, Rowman and Littlefield (2003); and Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law, NYU Press (2008). View full bio<a style="font-size: 1.6rem;" href="