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Richard H. Helmholz is the Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he enjoys the affectionate nickname "the Hammer" from his students. He received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1965 and also earned an A.B. in French literature at Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in medieval history from the University of California at Berkeley.
He is a member of the Selden Society Council  and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. Before moving to the University of Chicago, he spent ten years at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a professor of law and history. He is best known for his work on the influence of canon law on the common law.
His scholarship was cited by Justice David Souter's majority opinion in the 2004 Supreme Court case Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain et al., 542 U.S. 692.
He teaches property, European legal history, and the law of oil and gas. In 2000–01, Helmolz was the Arthur Goodhart Visiting Professor of Legal Science at the University of Cambridge and in Fall 2005, he was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He is also a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.