Meet the Faculty

Full-Time Faculty

Seval Yildirim

Associate Dean for Faculty Development
Professor of Law

  • B.A., Randolph-Macon Women’s College
  • M.A., George Washington University
  • J.D., New York University School of Law
  • LL.M., New York University School of Law

Contact Information

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Tel. 714.444.4141 ext. 226
Fax. 714.444.1854
Building Two, Room 226

Areas of Expertise

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Foreign Policy, Human Rights Law, International Security, International and Comparative Law, Islamic Law, Law and Religion, Middle Eastern Law, Muslims in the United States, National Security

Seval Yildirim is Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Law. An expert on law and religion, her research and scholarship center on comparative law and secularism, focusing on the Middle East and in particular on Turkey, critiques of international human rights law, and neoliberalism and development in emerging economies, including Turkey and India. She teaches courses on Islamic law, international law, comparative law and constitutional law.

Dean Yildirim was a Visiting Associate Professor at Villanova University School of Law during 2012-13. She served as the chair of Association of American Law Schools, Section on Islamic Law and the chair of Association of International Law-American Branch, Islamic Law Committee. Prior to joining Whittier Law School, Dean Yildirim was a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. At Whittier, she has served as the Director of Whittier’s Center for International and Comparative Law during the 2007-08 and 2011-12 academic years.

Dean Yildirim has remained active in civil rights litigation as a pro bono legal consultant with Council on American Islamic Relations and pro bono attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. She was pro bono counsel to Kimberlie Webb in Webb v. City of Philadelphia, 562 F.3d 256 (3rd Cir. 2009), seeking recognition of Webb’s free exercise right to wear a religious head covering under her police uniform hat.

Book Chapters

  • Chapter 14: Accommodation Tangles in the Laws over Hair. Law and Religion: Cases in Context. Leslie C. Griffin, ed. Aspen: 2010 (Peer reviewed, invited).
  • The Search for Shared Idioms: Contesting Views of Laiklik Before the Turkish Constitutional Court. Muslim Communities and the Crisis of Secularism. Gabriele Marranci, ed. Springer: 2010 (Peer reviewed).


  • Turkish Woman in Protest: the Soil for Revolt and Resistance. Journal of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, University of Iowa. (Forthcoming, 2015) (Invited).
  • Conceptions of Religion in the Secular State. Pepperdine Law Review. (Forthcoming, Fall 2014).
  • Globally Tangled: Law, Headcoverings and Religious Identity. 10 Santa Clara J. Int’l L. 45 (2012) (Invited).
  • Discussing Islam in the Post-9/11 Epistemological Terrain. 19 Pace Int’l L. Rev. 223 (2007) (Invited).
  • Empowering the Human in Human Rights Discourse. 100 Am. Soc’y Int’l L. 409 (2006) (Invited).
  • Aftermath of a Revolution: A Case Study of Turkish Family Law. 17 Pace Int’l L. Rev. 347 (2005).
  • Expanding Secularism’s Scope: An Indian Case Study. 52 Am. J. Comp. L. 901 (2004) (peer reviewed).

Encyclopedia Entries

Islamic Law. Modern Muslim Societies: Muslim World. Florian Pohl, ed. Marshall Cavendish, 2010.

Scholarship available at

Selected Presentations

  • “Neoliberal Religiosity in Turkey and India” (with Manoj Mate), presented at panel “Courts and Economic Rights in a Neoliberal Age,” 2015 Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association, Seattle, Washington, May 30, 2015.
  • Neoliberal Religious Parties in the Secular State: India and Turkey. With Manoj Mate. ClassCrits VII, Nov. 14-15, 2014. UC Davis School of Law.
  • Gender in 2013 Turkish Protests and After. Symposium on Women in the Revolution: Gender and Social Justice After the Arab Spring. Invited Panelist. University of Iowa College of Law, September 26, 2014.
  • Panel on Religious Law in the Secular State. Chair. Sections on Islamic Law and Jewish Law Joint Program. AALS 2014 Annual Meeting, New York, NY, January 5, 2014.
  • Ecumenopolis?: Turkey’s AKP and the Limits of Neoliberal Governmentality. With Asli Bali, UCLA Law School and Asli Igsiz, NYU Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Panelist. Panel on State Power, Exclusion and Legitimacy. ClassCrits VI Workshop/Southwestern Law Review Symposium. Los Angeles, CA, November 15, 2013.
  • Opening Plenary: Redefining Equality through Difference/Modernity/Coloniality: From DOMA to Shelby County, Trayvon and Beyond. Invited Panelist. 2013 Biennial LatCrit Conference. Chicago, October 4, 2013.
  • Legal Mobilization and Contentious Legalities Panel. Chair. Law and Society Association Annual Meeting. Boston, May 30-June 2, 2013.
  • Matters of Law or Why Law Matters. Chair. Law and Society Association Annual Meeting. Boston, May 30-June 2, 2013.
  • Globally Tangled: International Law and Muslim Head Coverings. Villanova University School of Law, February 6, 2013.
  • A Muslim Perspective on the Nature of Law. Invited Panelist. The Lumen Christi Institute and the Law Professors’ Christian Fellowship 2013 Annual Conference on Christian Legal Thought. New Orleans, LA, January 5, 2013.
  • On Law, Occupations, Revolt and Anarchy. Panelist. Mid-Atlantic Law and Society Association Meeting. Drexel University Earl Mack School of Law, October 20, 2012.
  • From Covered Hair to Prohibited Polygamy: Muslim Women’s Experience in Liberal Democracies. 5th Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. University of Baltimore School of Law, March 1-2, 2012.
  • Insurrections and the Cooptation of Human Rights Language. Invited Panelist. Symposium on Law, Human Rights and Revolution: Institution Building in the Wake of Massive Political Change. UCLA School of Law, February 17, 2012.
  • The Stratification of Muslim Identity in Global Discourses. Panelist and Moderator. Symposium on Muslims in the United States and Beyond. Center for International and Comparative Law, Whittier Law School, February 10, 2012.
  • From Covered Hair to Polygamy: Muslim Women’s Experience in Liberal Democracies. Work-in-Progress Presentation. Mid-Atlantic People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference. Howard University School of Law, January 27-28, 2012.
  • Legal Issues Arising out of Marriage and Divorce in Islam: Polygamy in Turkey. Invited Panelist. AALS 2012 Annual Meeting, Section on Islamic Law. Washington D.C., January 7, 2012.
  • Domestic Identities from Foreign Laws: The Indian Sodomite and the Turkish Polygamist. Works in Progress Series, Whittier Law School, March 29, 2011.
  • Panel on Zina Laws, Human Rights and State Accountability. Invited Panelist. 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2011.
  • Globally Tangled: Law, Headcoverings and Religious Identity. Religion and International Law Conference. Invited Panelist. Santa Clara University Law School, February 18-19, 2011.
  • Queering Intersectionality. Panel. Invited Panelist. 4th Annual Critical Race Studies Symposium, UCLA, March 13, 2010.
  • Straightening the Prism of Sexual Identity Rainbow: A Critique of Same-Sex Marriage Debates. Works in Progress Series, Whittier Law School. February 4, 2010.
  • At the Crossroads of the First Amendment and Islam. Whittier Law School Alumni Association Luncheon. November 24, 2009.
  • Muslim Countries or Islamic States: A Panel Debate on the Relationship of Secularism and Islamic Law. Invited Panelist. AALS 2009 Annual Meeting. Section on Islamic Law. San Diego, CA, January 10, 2009.
  • Tangled Tales: Headscarves and the Law in Comparative Contexts. Works in Progress Series, Whittier Law School, October 14, 2008.
  • Law and Religion in Turkey. Presentation to the Orange County Bar Association, International Law Section Meeting, January 22, 2008.
  • Roundtable on Abdullahi An-Na’im’s the Future of Shari’a: Secularism from an Islamic Perspective. Invited Participant and Commentator. Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law, January 27-28, 2007.
  • Discussing Islam in the Post-9/11 Epistemological Terrain. Invited Panelist. International Law Symposium: Interpreting Islamic Law for the Western World. Pace University School of Law, January 26, 2007.
  • Panel: Fundamentalisms and Human Rights. Invited Panelist. Centennial Meeting of the American Society of International Law, March 29-April 1, 2006.
  • Panel: Iraqi Constitution in Middle East Perspective. The 23rd Annual International Law Symposium: Rule of Law and the Prospects for a Democratic Iraq. Panel Chair. Whittier Law School, March 24, 2006.
  • Tangled Tales: Prohibition on Headcoverings in Turkish Public Space. Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities 2006 Conference. Syracuse University School of Law, March 17, 2006.
  • The Danish Cartoon Controversy. Spring 2006 Colloquium Series. Whittier Law School, Center for International and Comparative Law, February 20, 2006.
  • Evolution of Turkish Family Law. Invited Panelist. AALS 2006 Annual Meeting, Section on Legal History: Recent Developments in Comparative Legal History. Washington D.C., January 5, 2006.
  • Law, Religion and Gender in Turkey. Selected Paper. Cornell L.L.M. Conference, Cornell School of Law, April 3, 2004.

Selected Media Appearances

  • Live Commentary on the Proposed Laws in Turkey on Semseddin Efe ile Amerika Gundemi on Samanyolu TV (daily news show on Turkish news channel). October 20, 2014.
  • ABD’deki Turk Hukukculardan Gestapo Yasasina Tepki (Reaction on the Proposed New Laws from Turkish scholars in the U.S.), Zaman (Turkish daily), October 18, 2014.
  • Interview with Professor Seval Yildirim on Turkey’s Gezi Protests. Andisheh Pouya, No. 13 (January 2014) at 37. (Interview in an Iranian pro-reform journal).
  • Live Commentary on ACLU v. Neptune School Board. Capital Thinking Radio Show, Voice of America Network. June 16, 2011 and June 30, 2011.
  • Live Commentary on Orange County, CA District Attorney’s Indictments against UC Irvine Muslim Students. Fox News, America Live, February 14, 2011.
  • Live Commentary on Disney’s Accommodation of Muslim Women Employees Wearing Hijab. Al Jazeera English, Evening News, September 30, 2010.
  • Commentary on Quran Burnings and Islamophobia in the United States. Special Report on NTV and Voice of America- Turkish (Turkish Radio Stations). September 9, 2010.
  • Real ID vs. The States: Minorities Face Real ID Crackdown. Anne Broache. CNet News. February 6, 2008.
  • Numerous other media appearances commenting on pro bono cases in the area of religious freedom and secularism.

Pro Bono Activities

  • Webb v. City of Philadelphia. 562 F.3d 256. 3d Cir. (Pa.), Apr. 7, 2009. Pro-bono co-counsel with Jeffrey M. Pollock, Fox Rothschild L.L.P.
  • Legal Advisory Board Member, Council on American Islamic Relations, Southern California Chapter. 2011-2012.
  • Pro Bono Legal Consultant with Council on American-Islamic Relations in various cases involving minority religious rights. 2010-2012.
  • Pro Bono Attorney for ACLU-New Jersey. Recent matter: Settlement with Neptune School Board over display of religious symbols during public school’s high school graduation ceremony (matter concluded in June 2011).
  • Association of American Law Schools, Section on Islamic Law. Chair, 2013-14, Executive Board Member, 2009-Present.
  • American Society of Comparative Law, Director for Whittier Law School. 2010-Present.
  • International Law Association, American Branch Islamic Law Committee, Chair, 2007-2009.