Stephen Pepper



Legal Ethics and Legal Profession, Torts

Professional Biography

Stephen L. Pepper, Professor of Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, has published well-known law review articles on lawyers’ ethics and on the subject of freedom of religion under the First Amendment. Several of his articles on lawyers’ ethics have been included in casebooks and in edited collections of essays. His essay on the underlying theory of the ethical relation between lawyer and client won the Association of American Law Schools’ 1985 Scholarly Papers competition, and his article on lawyers’ ethics and the counseling of clients was the lead article in the May 1995 issue of the Yale Law Journal. A subsequent article, titled “Lawyers’ Ethics in the Gap Between Law and Justice,” deals with counseling clients when lawful conduct may also be ethically problematic. His most recent works are a book chapter providing practical guidance to working executives and professionals on ethics and the exercise of moral vision, an essay on integrating morality and law in day-to-day legal practice in the 2012 volume of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and an article on three underlying conceptual dichotomies in lawyer’ ethics, published in the 2015 volume of the same journal.

Professor Pepper graduated from Stanford University “with great distinction.” His law degree is from Yale Law School, where he won first place in the Thurman Arnold appellate advocacy competition and was a finalist in the Cardozo brief writing competition. He practiced law for four years with the Denver firm of Holland & Hart.

Professor Pepper has given presentations on lawyers’ ethics and on the First Amendment at numerous academic conferences and meetings of practicing lawyers. He regularly teaches the first-year Torts course, the required Legal Profession course, and a seminar on professional ethics. The students at the College of Law have selected him “Professor of the Year” four times.

Five of his articles have been translated into Japanese by Professor Hiroshi Sumiyoshi and published as a monograph under the title The Lawyer’s Amoral Ethical Role, Counseling and the Responsibility of the Client (Chuo University, 2000).

View CV


  • JD, 1973, Yale University
  • AB, 1969, Stanford University

Featured Publications

Additional Publications 

  • The Lawyer's Amoral Ethical Role, Counseling and the Responsibility of the Client (Chuo University Press 2000) (Japanese translation by Professor Hiroshi Sumiyoshi of Chuo University).
  • Access to What?, 2 J. Inst. for Study Legal Ethics 269 Journal of the Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics 1999 (symposium issue).
  • Lawyers' Ethics in the Gap between Law and Justice, 40 S. Tex. L. Rev. 181 South Texas Law Review Spring 1999 (symposium issue).
  • Resisting the Current, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 1015 Vanderbilt Law Review May, 1999 (symposium issue).
  • Why Confidentiality?, 23 Law & Social Inquiry 331 (1998) (symposium issue).
  • Applying the Fundamentals of Lawyers' Ethics to Insurance Defense Practice, 4 Conn. Ins. L.J. 27 Connecticut Insurance Law Journal 1997-1998 (symposium issue).
  • Counseling at the Limits of the Law: An Exercise in the Jurisprudence and Ethics of Lawering, 104 Yale L.J. 1545 (1995).
  • Conflicting Paradigms of Religious Freedom: Liberty Versus Equality, 1993 Brigham Young University Law Review 7-62 (symposium issue).
  • Autonomy, Community, and Lawyers' Ethics, 19 Capital University Law Review 939-966 (1990) (symposium issue).
  • A Brief for the Free Exercise Clause, 8 Journal of Law and Religion 323 (1989) (symposium issue).
  • Some Thoughts on Perspective, 4 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 301-311 (1989) (symposium issue).
  • A Rejoinder to Professors Kaufman and Luban, 1986 American Bar Foundation Research Journal 657-673.
  • Taking the Free Exercise Clause Seriously, 1986 Brigham Young University Law Review 299-336 (symposium issue).
  • The Constitution and Religious Pluralism, published in The Embattled Constitution, pp 92-115 (A. Grundman, ed.) (Robert Kreiger 1986).
  • The Lawyer's Amoral Ethical Role: A Defense, A Problem, and Some Possibilities, 1986 American Bar Foundation Research Journal 613-635.
  • Jensen v. Quaring: Will the Supreme Court Clarify Freedom of Religion Doctrine?, National Law Journal, April 8, 1985, pp. 24-26.
  • The Conundrum of the Free Exercise Clause -- Some Reflections on Recent Cases, 9 Northern Kentucky Law Review 265-303 (1982).
  • Reynolds, Yoder, and Beyond: Alternatives for the Free Exercise Clause, 1981 Utah Law Review 309-378.
  • The Case of Human Sacrifice, 23 Arizona Law Review 893-934 (1981).
  • "One L." Book Review, 31 Arkansas Law Review 529-537 (1977).