Joel A. Nichols portrait

Joel A. Nichols

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor
J.D., high honors, Emory Law School
M.Div., Candler School of Theology, Emory University
B.A., summa cum laude, Abilene Christian University
MSL 412
651) 962-4827
Toll Free
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4827
1000 LaSalle Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015

As Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Joel Nichols plays a lead role in matters dealing with faculty, curriculum, academic programs and accreditation. He works closely with staff and faculty alike to ensure a high-quality student educational experience through classroom instruction, experiential learning opportunities and academic support. Dean Nichols also works with foreign LL.M. students and provides guidance and support to St. Thomas's Organizational Ethics and Compliance program through teaching, advising, and curricular structure and oversight. He loves working with students and helping them learn, succeed and thrive.

Dean Nichols joined the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2007, received tenure in 2009 and was promoted to professor of law in 2012. He has served as associate dean since Jan. 1, 2013. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. His writing focuses on the intersection of law and religion, especially in family law, First Amendment law and human rights. His books include Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment, 4th ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016) (with John Witte, Jr.) and Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012). He has also authored two dozen publications, including articles in NYU Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Journal of Law and Religion, and Family Court Review, and book chapters with Cambridge University Press, InterVarsity Press and Mohr Siebeck. He has also been a reviewer for several prominent publishers.

From 2003-2007, Dean Nichols taught at Pepperdine Law School. Prior to that, he clerked for Judge Gerald Bard Tioflat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida, and practiced complex civil litigation in Washington, D.C., at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale). He has served in leadership roles with various sections of the American Association of Law Schools, including as chair of both the AALS Section on Associate Deans and the Section on Family and Juvenile Law; participated as an accreditation site team member for the American Bar Association; and worked closely with the state and local bar organizations and Board of Law Examiners. He is also currently a member of the Board of Directors of Minnesota CLE.

Selected Publications 

Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (4th ed.) (Oxford University Press, forthcoming April 2016) (with John Witte Jr.), 424 pp.

Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion (edited collection) (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 392 pp. (also available in paperback, 2013) 

Religious Law and Religious Courts as a Challenge for the State - Country Report USA,” in Religious Law and Religious Courts as a Challenge to the State: Legal Pluralism from a Comparative Perspective, Ed. Uwe Kischel (Verlag Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2016) (with John Witte Jr.), 30 ms. pp.

Religion, Family Law, and Competing Norms,” in Negotiating State and Non-State Law: The Challenges of Global and Local Legal Pluralism (Ed. Michael Helfand) (Cambridge Univ. Press 2015), 197-214.

“Religion, Marriage, and Pluralism,” 25 Emory International Law Review 967-985 (December 2011).

When the State is Evil: Biblical Civil (Dis)Obedience in South Africa,” 85 St. John’s Law Review 593-625 (December 2011) (with James W. McCarty III).

Faith-Based Family Laws in Western Democracies?” 2010 Fides et Libertas 119-132 (with John Witte Jr.) (also available as translated into French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Urdu, and Romanian).

“Evangelicals and Human Rights: The Continuing Ambivalence of Evangelical Christians’ Support for Human Rights,” 24 Journal of Law and Religion 629-662 (2009).

Multi-Tiered Marriage: Ideas and Influences from New York and Louisiana to the International Community,” 40 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 135-196 (Jan. 2007).

Religious Liberty in the Thirteenth Colony: Church-State Relations in Colonial and Early National Georgia,” 80 N.Y.U. Law Review 1693-1772 (Dec. 2005).

Joel Nichols Curriculum Vitae

Fall 2020 Courses

Fall 2020 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
LAWS 950 - 18 Supervised Resrch & Writing - - - - - - - -

Days of Week:

- - - - - - -

Time of Day:



Course Registration Number:

47607 (View in ClassFinder)

Credit Hours:


Joel A. Nichols

Under the supervision of a faculty member, a student may receive up to two hours of course credit for researching and writing a substantial paper on a topic of the student's own choosing. The student must receive the instructor's per- mission to enroll in this course and must meet periodically with the instructor for discussion, review and evaluation. Each faculty member may supervise the research of no more than five students each semester.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

J-Term 2021 Courses

J-Term 2021 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location

Spring 2021 Courses

Spring 2021 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location