Joel Nichols headshot.

Interim Law School Dean Becomes American Bar Foundation Fellow

Interim law school Dean Joel Nichols has been elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (ABF). Membership is limited to just 1% of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. Members are nominated by their peers and selected by the ABF Board.

The ABF Fellows is a global honorary society that recognizes attorneys, judges, law faculty and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the highest principles of the legal profession and to the welfare of their communities. ABF Fellows hail from nearly 40 countries and hold a wide variety of influential roles.

Notable ABF Fellows include the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg.

Nichols joined the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2007. He served as the associate dean for academic affairs from 2013-22, when he was appointed interim dean of the law school. Nichols is also an affiliated faculty member of Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of law and religion and he recently co-authored the book Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment, 5th ed. (Oxford Univ. Press). In addition to writing more than two dozen publications and many book chapters, Nichols has published articles in NYU Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law and Journal of Law and Religion.

Prior to joining St. Thomas, Nichols practiced in Washington, D.C., at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale), clerked for Judge Gerald Bard Tioflat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and taught at Pepperdine Law School. He has served in leadership roles for several sections of the American Association of Law Schools, participated on accreditation site teams for the American Bar Association, and worked closely with state and local bar organizations and the Board of Law Examiners.

About the ABF Fellows

The ABF Fellows serve as stewards of the American Bar Foundation, an independent, nonprofit research organization which conducts short- and long-term socio-legal research projects. The ABF’s mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law. The ABF’s research falls under one of three categories: learning and practicing law; protecting rights and accessing justice; and making and implementing law. The Foundation is committed to broad dissemination of research findings to the organized bar, scholars, and the general public.