Brett G. Scharffs – BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School

Brett G. Scharffs

The Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law; Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies

Brett Scharffs is the Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. His teaching and scholarly interests include law and religion, legal reasoning and rhetoric, philosophy of law, and legislation and regulation.

Professor Scharffs is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he received a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a BPhil in philosophy. He received his JD from Yale Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Professor Scharffs was a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, and worked as a legal assistant at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague. Before teaching at BYU, he worked as an attorney for the New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell. He has previously taught at Yale University and the George Washington University Law School. For the past ten years he has been a visiting Professor at Central European University in Budapest, and for the past seven years he has helped organize a Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law in Beijing in partnership with Peking University Law School’s Center for Administrative and Constitutional Law. He also co-organizes similar programs in Vietnam and Myanmar. He has also been working to develop a masters-level course on Shari’a and Human Rights with two universities in Indonesia. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Adelaide School of Law in Australia (2012) and Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan (2015).

In his eighteen year academic career, Professor Scharffs has written more than 100 articles and book chapters, and has made over 300 scholarly presentations in 30 countries. His articles include The Role of Humility in Exercising Practical Wisdom (U.C. Davis Law Review), Adjudication and the Problems of Incommensurability (William and Mary Law Review), Law as Craft (Vanderbilt Law Review), and The Character of Legal Reasoning (Washington and Lee Law Review). He is currently finishing work on a book about legal reasoning and rhetoric.

His field-creating casebook, LAW AND RELIGION: NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES, published by Aspen Press / Wolters Kluer (co-authored with his BYU Law School colleague W. Cole Durham, Jr.), has been translated into Chinese and Vietnamese, and translations are underway into Arabic, Burmese, Indonesian and Turkish. Second editions of the English and Chinese versions are scheduled in 2016.

He has served as Chair of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and is immediate past Chair of the Law and Interpretation Section of the AALS. He is on the editorial board of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion and the Advisory Board of the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion at the University of Adelaide.

He is married to Deirdre Mason Crane Scharffs, and has three children, Elliot, Sophelia, and Ella. He enjoys golf, skiing, and mountain biking with family and friends.

Courses Taught

  • Business Associations
  • Intnl Business Transaction
  • Intnl Securities
  • Reg of Mutual Funds & Investment Adviser
  • International Business Transactions
  • Theories of Adjudication
  • Church & State in the United States
  • Int. Protection of Religious Freedom
  • International Securities
  • Mentoring Program (do not register)
  • Professional Seminar
  • Adjudication: Law and Logic
  • International Securities Regulation
  • Adjudication: Rules vs. Balancing
  • Fiduciary Duty in Law and Equity
  • Int'l Protection of Religious Freedom
  • U.S. Church & State
  • Law and Logic
  • Adjudication: Rules and Balancing
  • Fiduciary Duty
  • U.S. Church and State
  • Legal Reasoning and Persuasion
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • Logic for Lawyers
  • Church and State in the U.S.


  • J.D., Yale University, 1988
  • B.S./B.A., Georgetown University, 1986
  • B.Ph., Oxford University, 1985
  • B.S., Georgetown University, 1978