Brian D. Lepard

Harold W. Conroy Distinguished Professor of Law

Professor Brian Lepard


Professor Lepard is a leading expert in the fields of international law, human rights law, comparative law, and tax law.  He joined the faculty in 1995. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1983. At Princeton, he was named a Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and concentrated on the study of international law and organization, receiving a prize from the Woodrow Wilson School for his thesis on the development of the idea of the League of Nations in France during the First World War. Following his graduation from Princeton, he worked for three years as an international human rights law specialist at the United Nations Office of the Baha'i International Community, a non-governmental organization. In 1989, he received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Journal of International Law.  From 1989 until 1995 he practiced tax law as an associate with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dechert Price & Rhoads, with a special focus on international tax law as well as exempt organizations law.

Professor Lepard has multidisciplinary scholarly and teaching interests in the fields of international human rights law; humanitarian intervention; international legal theory; comparative law, including comparative religious law; ethics; and tax and business law, including international tax law. He is the author of eight books and numerous articles relating to these diverse subject areas. Professor Lepard has spoken on the subjects of international law, human rights, and comparative law at conferences and other gatherings around the world, including in Albania, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, French Polynesia, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Professor Lepard holds the Harold W. Conroy Distinguished Professor of Law chair at the College of Law.  He is the faculty adviser for the Law College’s program of concentrated study on international human rights law.  He is a member of the editorial review boards of a number of academic journals, including The Journal of Human Rights, Religion and Human Rights:  An International Journal, and The Journal of Baha'i Studies. He currently serves as chair of the Committee on the Formation of Customary International Law of the American Branch of the International Law Association and has served as chair of the International Legal Theory Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.  He is a member of the International Board of Consultants of the Global Ethics and Religion Forum and of the Board of Advisors of Genocide Watch.  He has also served as faculty adviser to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bahá'í Association.

During the 2019-2020 academic year, Professor Lepard is teaching International Human Rights Law Seminar, Comparative Law: World Legal Systems and Their Relevance to U.S. Law and Practice, International Perspectives in the U.S. Legal System: Practicing Law in a Global Legal Environment, and Business Planning.

Professor Lepard is admitted to practice in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and before the U.S. Tax Court.  He is fluent in French and proficient in Portuguese. 


  • Business Planning Law 648/G (ACCT *848) (1-4 cr hr) (Prereq: LAW 632/G, 638/G)
    This is a course about business planning – the process of planning business transactions in a way that takes into account many relevant bodies of law as well as the needs of clients. Students learn about the goals and methods of business planning, the role of ethics in providing legal advice, factors that influence the choice of business entity for a venture, legal rules applying to partnerships and limited liability companies (“LLCs”), relevant laws dealing with corporations and securities regulation, laws that pertain to corporate restructurings, and laws applying to the purchase, sale, or merger of corporate businesses. Thus, the course seeks to integrate insights from many fields, some of which students may have already studied in other courses, including corporate law, partnership and LLC law, securities regulation, antitrust law, individual income tax, corporate tax, and partnership tax. Most importantly, students acquire practical skills in applying these multiple bodies of law to help clients solve practical business planning problems involving the formation, incorporation, restructuring, and disposition of a business. These include skills in drafting relevant legal documents, including legal memoranda, articles of incorporation or organization, and restructuring, sales or merger agreements. Students acquire these skills by working in “firms,” and each firm prepares one or two problems. Prerequisite: Business Associations and Corporate Tax.

  • Comparative Law Law 654/G (1-4 cr hr)
    This is a course on comparative law – the study of the different legal systems of the world and how they relate to one another. A basic knowledge of these legal systems and their differences and similarities is becoming increasingly important for attorneys as the legal world grows interdependent and issues arise in domestic courts that require recourse to foreign law under U.S. conflict of law principles. U.S. law firms of all sizes now routinely handle matters that involve foreign legal rules. Moreover, a knowledge of different legal systems and their varied approaches to common legal problems can help a U.S. attorney acquire a more profound and effective understanding of the U.S. legal system.

    In this course we seek to develop a general understanding of the major foreign legal systems and their impact on U.S. law, lawyers and clients. We devote some time at the beginning of the course to acquiring familiarity with the uses and methodologies of comparative law and with the history of the major legal systems of the world, including those based on religious law. These include indigenous, Jewish, Roman, European, Christian, Islamic, Asian, British, and American legal systems. We compare the U.S. common law system with the British common law system and with the civil law systems of continental Europe in some detail, and explore the uses of foreign law in U.S. federal and state courts.

    Substantive topics for comparative study include torts, contracts, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and the protection of human rights, as well as other subjects of interest to the class. We also investigate the potential for identifying general principles of law and ethics common to most legal systems. We acquire skills in thinking critically about comparative law and what light it can shed on the American legal system and possible reforms of it. Our approach is interdisciplinary and integrates insights from fields such as history, legal theory, political science, ethics, and comparative religion. We also read cases decided by foreign courts on such issues as the death penalty and compare the approach of these courts with that of U.S. courts.

  • International Human Rights Law Seminar Law 707/G (3 cr hr)
    In this seminar we examine the historical, political and philosophical roots of international human rights law, its development over the course of the last century, and its contemporary role in international affairs. Specific topics that we may discuss include current attempts to strengthen U.N. fact-finding and implementation mechanisms; the relationship between U.N. peacekeeping and peacemaking, on the one hand, and international humanitarian law, on the other; the use of military operations to protect human rights; the impact of international human rights law on efforts to combat terrorism; the activities of regional human rights systems; the effect of the United States’ signature and ratification of U.N. human rights conventions and the role of such conventions, and international human rights law generally, in U.S. courts; and contemporary efforts to enforce international human rights law through the criminal process, including through the International Criminal Court. Students are required to write a substantial research paper on a topic of their choice.

  • International Perspectives in the U.S. Legal System: Practicing Law in a Global Legal Environment Law 518/G (2 cr hr spring semester)
    This course is designed to help students situate their study of traditional first-year courses in an international context and to prepare for legal practice in a global legal environment. In particular, it assists students in developing an understanding of how to handle the inevitable foreign law and international law issues that can arise in the practice of virtually every area of law. The course also helps students understand the evolution of the U.S. legal system in light of other legal traditions in the world.
    We begin the course with a discussion of why it is important to have a knowledge of foreign and international law and work through some specific types of problems students may encounter in their future legal practices. Then we step back and gain an overview of the major legal traditions of the world, including traditions based on the civil law, the common law, indigenous law, Islamic law, and Chinese law. We see how the U.S. legal system reflects certain characteristics of these various traditions. We also study conflict of laws rules, under which foreign law may be applied in U.S. courts.

    We then turn our attention to international law. We study the major sources of international law, namely, (1) treaties, (2) customary international law, and (3) general principles of law shared by the national legal systems of the world. We then gain an introduction into how treaties and customary international law are applied in the U.S. legal system and in U.S. courts.

    At this point in the course we examine some specific topical areas lawyers may work on in their practices and see how lawyers need a knowledge of both foreign and international law to help solve problems for their clients. Some of these areas include topics students have already studied in their first year of law school. In particular, we study transnational criminal law, human rights law, tort law, contract law, and civil procedure. These classes build on, and help reinforce and sharpen, the knowledge of U.S. law in these areas that students are gaining in their other first-year courses.

    During the second half of the course, we focus in detail on the specific role of international treaties and other agreements in the U.S. legal system through a careful study of important U.S. cases.
    Throughout the course students have the opportunity to work on simulated projects that help them develop important lawyering skills that are part of the “Build Your Character” program. These include intellectual and cognitive skills, conflict resolution skills, and skills in working with others.

  • International Tax Law Law 650/G (3 cr hr)
    This course is an introduction to the U.S. federal income tax rules that apply to U.S. persons who live or do business abroad, or receive income from foreign sources, and to foreign persons who live or do business in the U.S., or receive income from U.S. sources. These rules are growing in importance and relevance to all kinds of taxpayers – including individuals, corporations, limited liability companies (“LLCs”), and partnerships – as people, and business and investment transactions, cross international borders with increasing frequency. The course includes a study of the role and effect of U.S. tax treaties. Students have the opportunity to discuss international tax issues that have recently been in the news, including the tax planning strategies of Apple and Google, as well as corporate “inversions.” Prerequisite: Individual Income Tax.

  • O Status da Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos no Direito Internacional Contemporâneo (The Status of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Contemporary International Law),  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Age of 70 (1948-2018): Trajectory, Perspectives and Challenges, ed. Daniel Barile da Silveira & Luciano Meneguetti Pereira. Forthcoming, 2019.

  • Why Customary International Law Matters in Protecting Human Rights,  March 2019

  • “Customary International Law: A Third World Perspective”: Reflections in Light of an Approach to CIL Based on Fundamental Ethical Principles.  American Journal of International Law Unbound (November 2018).

  • Customary International Law as a Dynamic Process,  Custom’s Future: International Law in a Changing World, ed. Curtis A. Bradley, 62-94. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

  • Book Review: Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground?, by Anver M. Emon, Mark S. Ellis, and Benjamin Glahn.  Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 5 (2016): 379-83

  • A Global Ethic and Global Law: The Role of Fundamental Ethical Principles in International Law and World Religions, The Global Ethic and Law: Intersections and Interactions, ed. Bradley Shingleton & Eberhard Stilz, 65-78.  The Global Ethic and Law: Intersections and Interactions, ed. Bradley Shingleton & Eberhard Stilz, 65-78. Baden-Baden: Nomos/Bloomsbury, 2015.

  • The Bahá’í Faith and Human Rights.  Published December 12, 2014 on Bahá’í Blog.

  • Ethical Perspectives on Interpreting and Implementing Article 4(h).  Africa and the Responsibility to Protect: Article 4(h) of the African Union Constitutive Act, ed. Dan Kuwali and Frans Viljoen, 82-96. London: Routledge, 2014.

  • Opportunities and Challenges for Taxpayers in Applying the Services Cost Method in the Section 482 Regulations on Services,  (2012)

  • A Bahá’í Perspective on International Human Rights Law,  ahá’í-Inspired Perspectives on Human Rights, Juxta Publishing, (2012)

  • The Legal Status of the 1996 Declaration on Space Benefits: Are Its Norms Now Part of Customary International Law?,  Soft Law in Outer Space: The Function of Non-Binding Norms in International Space Law, ed. Irmgard Marboe, 289-313. Vienna: Böhlau, (2012)

  • Parochial Restraints on Religious Liberty,  Parochialism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Foundations of International Law, ed. M.N.S. Sellers, 225-49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2012)

  • International Law and Human Rights,  Handbook of Human Rights, ed. Thomas Cushman, 583-97. London: Routledge, (2012)

  • Harmony and Dissonance in International Legal Theory: Introductory Remarks by Brian Lepard,  American Society of International Law Proceedings 105 (2012): 451-52

  • World Religions and World Peace: Toward a New Partnership,  The World’s Religions: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Arvind Sharma, 75-80. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, (2011)

  • A Bahá’í Perspective on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World’s Religions,  The World’s Religions: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Arvind Sharma, 115-17. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, (2011)

  • Many Questions Unanswered Concerning Application of Codification of Economic Substance Doctrine to Transfer Pricing,  (2011)

  • How Should the ICC Prosecutor Exercise His or Her Discretion? The Role of Fundamental Ethical Principles,  John Marshall Law Review 43 (2010): 553-67

  • Book Review: The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, by Gareth Evans,  American Journal of International Law 104 (2010): 704-710

  • Towards a Normative Theory of Customary International Law as Law,  American Society of International Law Proceedings 103 (2009): 379-82

  • The Bahá'í Faith,  The Oxford Encyclopedia of Human Rights, David P. Forsythe, ed., Oxford University Press (2009)

  • Implementación de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos en lel nuevo siglo a través de la consulta de mente abierta Implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the New Century Through Open-Minded Consultation,  Cohesión social y derechos humanos, ed. Ana Lucía Córdova Cazar and Francisco López-Bermúdez. Quito: Córporacion Editora Nacional, (2009)

  • A Bahá'í Perspective on Human Rights and the World's Religions After September 11,  Windows to World's Religions: Selected Proceedings of the Global Congress on the World's Religions After September 11, Arvind Sharma, ed., D.K. Printworld (2009)

  • A Bahá'í Perspective on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World's Religions After September 11, 2001,  The World's Religions After September 11, Vol. II, Arvind Sharma, ed., Praeger (2009)

  • Divine Rights: Toward a New Synthesis of Human Rights and World Religions,  The World's Religions After September 11, Vol. II, Arvind Sharma, ed., Praeger (2009)

  • World Religions and World Peace: Toward a New Partnership,  The World's Religions After September 11, Vol. I, Arvind Sharma, ed., Praeger (2009)

  • Jurying Humanitarian Intervention and the Ethical Principle of Open-Minded Consultation,  Humanitarian Intervention, Terry Nardin and Melissa Williams, eds., New York University Press (2005)

  • Iraq, Fundamental Ethical Principles, and the Future of Human Rights,  4 The Journal of Human Rights 53 (2005)

  • Protecting the Human Family: Humanitarian Intervention, International Law, and Baha'i Principles,  13 The Journal of Baha'i Studies 33 (2004)

  • Why Obey International Law? Theories for Managing Conflicts with Municipal Law,  97 American Society of International Law Proceedings 111 (2003) (with Hilary Charlesworth, Harold Hongju Koh, and Fernando Teson)

  • Humanitarian Intervention, International Law and the World Religions,  Human Rights and Responsibilities in the World Religions, Joseph Runzo, Nancy Martin, and Arvind Sharma, eds., Oneworld Publications (2003)

  • Humanitarian Intervention and International Law in the New Millennium,  The Nebraska Transcript (2001)

  • Is the United States Obligated to Drive on the Right? A Multidisciplinary Inquiry into the Normative Authority of Contemporary International Law Using the Arm's Length Standard as a Case Study,  10 Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 43 (2000)

  • The Prospects for a Permanent United Nations Military Force: Lessons from the Debate on the French Proposals at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, 75 Years Later,  88 American Society of International Law Proceedings 390 (1994)

  • The Role of Religions and Beliefs in Establishing Social Peace,  "Proceedings of an International Symposium on 'Freedom of Conscience: Basis for Social Peace', Tirana, Albania, 26-28 May, 1992," 4 Conscience and Liberty: International Journal of Religious Freedom 113 (1992)

  • Offering Shares of Non-U.S. Investment Funds in the United States: A U.S. Securities and Tax Law Perspective,  7 Journal of International Banking Law 344 (1992) (with Robert W. Helm and Natalie S. Bej)

  • From League of Nations to World Commonwealth: A Baha'i Perspective on the Past, Present and Future of International Organization,  Emergence: Dimensions of a New World Order, Charles Lerche, ed., U.K. Baha'i Publishing Trust (1991)

  • Reexamining Customary International Law, editor, Cambridge University Press, 2017

  • Unrelated Business Income Tax Issues in Health Care. Rev. ed. Arlington, VA: Bloomberg BNA, 2014.

  • Section 482 Allocations: Specific Allocation Methods and Rules in the Code and Regulations. 2d rev. ed. 552-2nd T.M. Arlington, VA: Bloomberg BNA, 2014.

  • Section 482 Allocations: Judicial Decisions and IRS Practice. 2d rev. ed. 553-2nd T.M. Arlington, VA: Bloomberg BNA, 2013.

  • Section 482 Allocations: General Principles in the Code and Regulations,2d rev. ed. 551-2nd T.M. Arlington, VA: Bloomberg BNA, 2012

  • Customary International Law: A New Theory with Practical Applications, Cambridge University Press (2010)

  • Section 482 Allocations: Judicial Decisions and IRS Practice, Tax Management Portfolio 553,Bureau of National Affairs (2006)

  • Section 482 Allocations: Specific Allocation Methods and Rules in the Code and Regulations,552 T.M. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 2006

  • Section 482 Allocations: Specific Allocation Methods and Rules in the Code and Regulations, Tax Management Portfolio 552Bureau of National Affairs, 2005

  • Hope for a Global Ethic: Shared Principles in Religious Scriptures, Baha'i Publishing, 2005

  • Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention: A Fresh Legal Approach Based on Fundamental Ethical Principles in International Law and World Religions,Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002

  • Unrelated Business Income Tax Issues in Health CareBureau of National Affairs, 1996 (with Frederick J. Gerhart)

  • Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2023