Ralf Michaels

Associate Professor of Law, 2002-2007, Professor of Law, 2007-2013, Arthur Larson Professor of Law, 2013-2019


Ralf Michaels is an expert in comparative law and conflict of laws. His research while a faculty member focused mainly on three issues: the role of domestic courts in globalization, the role of conflict of laws as a theory of global legal fragmentation, and the status and relevance of law beyond the state.  He has authored numerous articles on all three topics.

Michaels is the editor or co-editor of two special volumes of the American Journal of Comparative Law: "Beyond the State? Rethinking Private Law", 2008 (also published as a book) and "Legal Origins", 2009, as well as a book and a journal issue on conflict of laws: Conflict of Laws in a Globalized World (2007); Transdisciplinary Conflicts, Law and Contemporary Problems, 2008.

Michaels has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Panthéon/Assas (Paris II), Princeton, Pennsylvania, Toronto, and the London School of Economics. He has also held senior research fellowships at Harvard and Princeton, as well as the American Academy in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Private Law in Hamburg. In 2015, he gave a number of lectures on private international law at The Hague Academy for International Law.

Michaels studied law at the Universities of Passau and Cambridge, UK. He is married and has three daughters. His skills at the piano are in steady decline.

In 2019 Prof. Michaels returned to Europe where he is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Global Law Professor at Queen Mary University of London School of Law, and Professor of Law at Hamburg University.

Courses Taught

International Arbitration

Comparative Law

Comparative Law:Western Legal Traditions

Conflict of Laws

International Civil Litigation

Civil Litigation in US Federal Courts: Transnational Issues

Globalization of the Family

Readings: Comparative Law Methodology

Religious Laws

Duke Program

Comparative Law