Deborah Hellman is the David Lurton Massee, Jr. Professor of Law and the F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights at the University of Virginia School of Law and Director of its Center for Law & Philosophy.
There are two main strands to Hellman’s work. The first focuses on equal protection law and its philosophical foundation. She is the author of When Is Discrimination Wrong? (Harvard University Press, 2008) and co-editor of The Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law (Oxford University Press, 2013), as well as articles related to discrimination and equal protection. In 2020, she won the Association of American Law Schools Section on Jurisprudence Article Award for “Measuring Algorithmic Fairness,” which, together with several articles and book chapters, extends her interest in discrimination to the algorithmic context.
The second strand of Hellman’s work focuses on the relationship between money and legal rights and includes articles on campaign finance law, bribery and corruption. In this work, Hellman explores and challenges the normative justification of current doctrine. Her article “A Theory of Bribery” won the 2019 Fred Berger Memorial Prize (for philosophy of law) from the American Philosophical Association.
In addition, she writes about the obligations of professional roles. She teaches first year classes in both constitutional law and contracts and upper-level classes that explore the philosophical dimensions of these and other subjects including legal theory, discrimination theory, contract theory and advanced constitutional law.
Hellman is a member of the American Law Institute and an Associate Editor of the Journal Law and Philosophy. She was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2005-06, the Eugene P. Beard Faculty Fellow in Ethics at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University in 2004-05, and was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers recipient in 1999. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and at the University of Virginia School of Law, prior to joining their faculty.
She is a graduate of Dartmouth college, holds an M.A. in philosophy from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.