Prominent international law scholar to join Duke faculty

February 15, 2009Duke Law News

Laurence R. Helfer, professor of law and director of the International Legal Studies Program at Vanderbilt Law School, will join the Duke University School of Law as professor of law and co-director of the Duke Center for International and Comparative Law, effective July 2009. The Provost has also nominated him to fill the Harry R. Chadwick Sr., chair.

Helfer is a widely respected scholar whose research interests include interdisciplinary analysis of international law and institutions, human rights, international litigation and dispute settlement, international intellectual property law and policy, and lesbian and gay rights. He is the co-author of the forthcoming casebook, Human Rights (2d edition, Foundation Press, 2009), and author of the monograph, Intellectual Property Rights in Plant Varieties: International Legal Regimes and Policy Options for National Governments (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2004).

In addition, Helfer has authored more than 50 publications and has lectured widely on his diverse research interests. His articles have appeared in leading American law reviews, including the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the California Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, and Duke’s journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, as well as in numerous peer-reviewed and international law journals. Helfer also is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of World Intellectual Property and serves on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

“Professor Helfer is a tremendous addition to our faculty,” said Duke Law Dean David F. Levi. “He is an outstanding scholar and teacher with a broad range of research interests that complement and strengthen our programs in international law, intellectual property, and human rights. He is co-author of a leading casebook on international human rights. He is a creative and forceful institution builder and will help unify the many parts of the University that are interested in human rights and in interdisciplinary research. We are delighted to welcome him to Duke Law.”

Helfer’s life partner, David Boyd, also will join Duke University as an associate professor of the practice at the Duke Global Health Institute. Currently an associate professor and associate director at Vanderbilt’s Center for Medicine, Health and Society, Boyd is an expert in global health, cross-cultural medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Helfer holds a JD from New York University, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was articles editor of the New York University Law Review. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. He joined Vanderbilt Law School’s faculty in 2004 and also has served as a visiting faculty member at Harvard University and the University of Chicago law schools.

Helfer is the latest in a series of prominent lateral hires at Duke Law. Guy-Uriel Charles also will join Duke Law, from the University of Minnesota, in July 2009. Other recent hires include Ernest Young from the University of Texas; political scientist Jack Knight from the Washington University of St. Louis; Lisa Kern Griffin from UCLA; Mitu Gulati from Georgetown Law Center; Curtis Bradley from the University of Virginia; and Michael Tigar from American University’s Washington College of Law.

“Larry Helfer is one of the leading international law scholars of his generation,” said Curt Bradley, senior associate dean for academic affairs and the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy Studies. “His interdisciplinary and wide-ranging expertise will further deepen our strengths in international law and allow us to offer a broader array of courses to our students. He also will help build additional connections between the Law School and other parts of the University, such as the public policy institute, which will enrich both our teaching and our scholarship.”

Duke’s international law faculty has grown considerably in size and scope in recent years, thanks in part to the additions of Bradley and Gulati and the development of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law (CICL) under the direction of Professor Ralf Michaels, a prominent comparative law scholar. CICL coordinates and supports a range of international law programming, including conferences, symposia, speaker series, and courses such as the Global Law Workshop, as well as faculty research.

Other Duke Law research centers, such as the Global Capital Markets Center and the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, as well as the Guantanamo Defense Clinic and the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, offer additional breadth to the School’s international law curriculum and academic programs.

“I am honored to be joining such a distinguished and innovative group of scholars,” said Helfer. “The Duke Law faculty has deep and broad expertise in many areas of international and comparative law and U.S. foreign relations law. CICL boasts no fewer than 10 core faculty members and numerous visiting scholars. As co-director of CICL, I look forward to working with my new colleagues in the Law School and in other University departments and centers to build on Duke’s substantial strengths. And I am eager to teach Duke’s many internationally-minded JD and LLM students about cutting edge legal issues and the increasingly globalized practice of law.”

Boyd joins the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), which works to reduce health disparities locally and globally through interdisciplinary research and teaching. Prior to his post at Vanderbilt, Boyd was executive director of the Center for Health and Healing at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles. At St. Vincent’s, he focused on integrating complementary medical services into health care for low-income patients with chronic and terminal illnesses and engaged in hospital-based programs, community health outreach, and intervention for multiple ethnic and immigrant populations. Trained in traditional Chinese medicine at the Pacific Institute of Oriental Medicine in New York, Boyd holds a PhD in medieval studies from Yale University and has completed postgraduate clinical training in China.

“Larry and I are delighted to join the Duke community,” Boyd said. “(DGHI Director) Mike Merson and the Institute’s stellar interdisciplinary faculty are engaged in cutting-edge global health research, education, service, and policy. I am excited and honored to join them and to participate in the Institute’s mission.”