Paula Franzese   

Paula Franzese

Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law

  • Degrees:

  • J.D., Columbia University School of Law B.A., Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Contact:

  • Tel:  973-642-8817
  • SSRN Site link
  • Courses:

  • Property, Commercial Law Survey, First Amendment Values


    Leadership, Ethics, and Decision-Making

    Director, Leadership Fellows Program

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Professor Paula Franzese, the Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law, is one of the country's leading experts in property law as well as government ethics. She has spearheaded ethics reform initiatives on behalf of three governors, serving as Special Ethics Counsel to Governor Richard J. Codey, Chair of the State Ethics Commission, Vice-Chair of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, Vice-Chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Special Committee on Attorney Ethics and Admissions and as ethics advisor to state and local governments across the country, including Mayor Cory Booker's administration in Newark. Professor Franzese is Chair of the State Commission on Professionalism. She received the National Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) Award, the highest honor conferred by the organization, in recognition of her "significant, demonstrable and positive contributions to the fields of campaign finance, elections, ethics, freedom of information and lobbying over a significant period of time." Among her groundbreaking initiatives in those arenas, she and retired Justice Daniel J. O'Hern promulgated the Uniform Ethics Code, a pioneering statutory achievement and model for national replication. She has published extensively on the best practices for ethics reform of state and local governments.

The author of numerous publications, Prof. Franzese’s scholarship in the area of housing law includes critical examination of landlord tenant law, common interest communities, homeowners associations and the dilemma of privatization, the law of servitudes, exclusionary zoning, affordable housing, adverse possession doctrine and takings law. Her most recent empirical and scholarly study of the plight of low-income tenants living in substandard housing become the basis for significant reform efforts. She joined in the submission to the U.S. Supreme Court of an amicus brief in the Kelo case, and has written and presented on takings law reform.

Nationally renowned for her excellence in teaching, a recent book names Professor Franzese one of only 26 "best law teachers in the United States." The book, What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press), profiles in detail the pedagogical approach that renders her a "dazzlingly effective model of rigor, hard work, creativity and humility." Professor Franzese is the unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Student Bar Association's Professor of the Year Award, has been named "Exemplary Teacher" by the American Association of Higher Education, was ranked the Top Law Professor in New Jersey by the New Jersey Law Journal and was named Faculty Teacher of the Year. She has demonstrated and deconstructed her pedagogical expertise on teaching as both art and science at workshops and colloquia across the country and served as Distinguished Teaching and Learning Professor at the University Of Denver Sturm College Of Law. She is the Gilbert's "Legend of the Law" in Property (CD series, Lexis) and the national Property and Secured Transactions lecturer for the BAR/BRI bar review course. She is the past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Teaching Methods and served as Vice-Chair of the Legal Education Section of the American Bar Association.

Committed to education reform and civic engagement, Prof. Franzese serves on the Boards of Trustees of Mount St. Dominic Academy, St. Catherine of Siena School and the Community Health Law Project. She has pioneered the cause of law-related education and informed mentoring initiatives throughout the country as Past President of the Justice Resource Center. Her presentations on the importance of teachers have been showcased at teacher conferences, leadership academies, bench-bar symposia and school district convocations. She established the Leadership Fellows Program and teaches leadership, ethics and decision-making to middle-school, undergraduate and graduate students. She has been named one of twenty Inspiring Women in Education by sheknows media. She has presented on education as a human right at the United Nations Human Rights Summit and has inspired educators at teaching summits across the country.

Professor Franzese is the author of Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Property (Aspen), is a contributor to the books America's Second Gilded Age? Perspectives on Law and Class Differences (NYU Press), The Affective Assistance of Counsel: Practicing Law as a Healing Profession (Carolina Academic Press), and Reaction and Reform in New Jersey (Hall Institute). She co-authored Property Law and the Public Interest, which expansively explored the public interest dimensions of Property law. She serves on the editorial board of the Land Use and Environmental Law Review, a prestigious peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

Professor Franzese is the creator of the acclaimed Short and Happy Guide book series (West Publishing) and is the author of A Short and Happy Guide to Property (2d ed.), A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student and A Short and Happy Guide to Being a College Student. Excerpts from A Short and Happy Guide to Being a College Student and A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student can be found at

Prof. Franzese was named a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a highly coveted honor, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation as well as the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Sir Thomas More Medal of Honor, the YWCA Woman of Influence Award, the Women Lawyers Association Trailblazer Award, the State Bar Foundation's Medal of Honor and the Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid Medal, the University's highest honor.

Professor Franzese was a litigator with Cahill, Gordon, where she also served as a member of the New York Housing Court Reform Project and the Governor's Task Force on Life and Law. She clerked for Justice Alan B. Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Barnard College, Columbia University, where she was awarded the Bryson Prize, Alpha Zeta Fellowship, Marion Churchill White Prize, Davidson-Foreman Foundation Award and Barnard Alumnae Fellowship, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was an International Fellow, Teaching Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Rosenman Prize for excellence in public law courses.



Street Smarts for Women Lawyers, NYC Bar Press (2016) (Contributing Author)

A Short and Happy Series (Twelve Titles), West (2015) (Creator and Editor)

Experiencing Property, West (2015)

A Short and Happy Guide to Being a College Student, West (2014)

A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student, West (2014)

Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching: Property, Aspen Publishing (2012)

A Short and Happy Guide to Property, Thomson (2011)

Property Law and the Public Interest, Third Edition, Lexis (2007) (with Mandelker, Callies & Hylton)

Reaction and Reform in New Jersey, Hall Institute (2007) (Contributor, (with Justice Daniel J. O'Hern), Ethics Reform Recommendations for The Executive Branch of New Jersey Government)

The Affective Assistance of Counsel: Practicing Law As a Healing Profession, Carolina Academic Press (2006) (Contributor, Marjorie Silver, ed.)

Residential Privilege: The Advent of the Guarded Subdivision, to appear in America’s Second Gilded Age? Perspectives on Law and Class Differences, NYU Press (2005) (Paul Carrington & Trina Jones, eds.)

The Law According to Skyboxes, (2005) (Contributor, Paul Carrington, ed.)

Legends of the Law on Property, Thomson (2003)


The Implied Warranty of Habitability Lives: Making Real the Promise of Landlord Tenant Reform, 68 Rutgers L. Rev. 1 (2017)

The Power of Empathy in the Classroom, 47 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1 (2017)

Empathic Teaching, Empathic Learning, 21 The Law Teacher 54 (2014)

Law Teaching for the Conceptual Age, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1 (2014)

New Jersey Common Interest Communities: Predictors of Distress and an Agenda for Reform, 63 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (2011)

Reclaiming the Promise of the Judicial Branch: Toward a More Meaningful Standard of Judicial Review as Applied to New York Eminent Domain Law, 38 Fordham Urban L.J. 1091 (2011)

The Twin Rivers Case: Of Homeowners Associations, Free Speech Rights and Privatized Mini-Governments, 5 Rutgers J. Law & Public Policy 4 (2008)

Trust and Community: The Common Interest Community as Metaphor and Paradox, 72 Univ. of Missouri L. Rev. 1110 (2007)

Privatization and Its Discontents: Common Interest Communities and the Rise of Government for the "Nice.", 37 The Urban Lawyer 335 (2005)

Restoring the Public Trust: An Agenda for Ethics Reform of State Government and a Proposed Model for New Jersey, 57 Rutgers L. Rev. 1175 (2005)

Solutions to the Crisis in Affordable Housing: A Proposed Model for New York City, 3 Rutgers J. of Law & Urban Policy 84 (2005) (Maria Anderson)


Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government, J. of Regional Science (2012)


A Place to Call Home: Giving Voice to Tenants Left Behind, Axelrod Lecture, Rutgers Law School (April 2017)

Celebrating Our Love of the Law, New Jersey Law Journal (February 2017)

How to Stop Slumlords From Abusing Poor Tenants, Newark Star Ledger (February 2017)

The Virtue of the Work, Off the Record (March 2017)

Bridgegate Is a Cancer on the Governorship, Star Ledger (November 6, 2016) (Op-Ed)

In Defense of Hope, New Jersey Law Journal (January 2016)

Less Than 1% of N.J. Tenants Know Their Rights. Fix It This Way, Star Ledger (October 18, 2016) (Op-Ed)

Stop Subsidizing Bad Landlords, Rooflines (November 2016)

Christie’s Pick Raises Concern: Ethics Commission Must Be Independent, Star Ledger (January 31, 2014) (Op-Ed)

NJ’s Ethics Group Must Find Its Way, Star Ledger (March 7, 2014) (Op-Ed)

Hopeful Signs of Good Government in New Jersey, Star Ledger (September 24, 2010)

New Twin Rivers Test Applied to Homeowners Associations' Restrictions on Residents' Speech, LexisNexis 2007, Expert Commentaries Series

Full list of presentations available in Curriculum Vitae

A Return to Civic Engagement, New Jersey Political Science Association Annual Meeting (2017/04) (Keynote)

Gender, the Law, and the 2016 Presidential Election, New Jersey State Bar Association (2017/03/14)

The Implied Warranty of Habitability Lives: Making Real the Promise of Landlord-Tenant Reform, Axelrod Lecture, Rutgers Law School (2017/03/24)

Applying First Principles of Robust Civility to Virtual Worlds, Gibbons Symposium on Law and Technology (2016/10) (Keynote)

Landlord Tenant Reform in Crowded Housing Markets, Progressive Property Conference (2016/05/13-14)

The First Amendment in Perilous Times, The Annenburg Project Lecture Series on the Living Constitution, PBS (2016/01/29)

Behind the Veil: What the Best Law Professors Do, Association of American Law School Annual Meeting (2015/01/03)

Empathic Teaching, Empathic Learning, Chicago-Kent Law School Faculty Colloquium (2015/03/12)

Evolving Standards of Civility and Professionalism, New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Meeting (2015/01/22)

Leading With Integrity, NJSBA Leadership Academy (2015/09/11)

Making It Stick: Empathic Teaching, Empathic Learning, University of Denver Sturm College of Law (2015/10/22)

Reclaiming the Public Trust: Ethics Reform in Troubling Times, NJ League of Women Voters, Princeton (2015/10/10)

Teachers as Agents of Change, Rahway School District (2015/09/02)

Teaching as Art and Science, University of Denver Sturm College of Law (2015/10/23)

The Science of Professional Learning, Pace Law School Faculty Colloquium (2015/02/04)

The Importance of Teachers, New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Conference for State Teachers (2014/03/08)

Knowing Our Worth: Reframing and Reclaiming the Promise of Equality, NJ Women Lawyers' Association Convocation (2013/11/01)

Prosecuting Public Corruption: Safeguards, Excesses and an Agenda for Reform, Circuit Review Symposium, Seton Hall Law School (2012/03/13)

Prosecutorial Misconduct, The Hall Institute (2012/02/22)

Attorney Professionalism and the Public Trust, New York State Bar Foundation (2011/02/25)

Eminent Domain: The NY Experience, Fordham Urban Law Journal Symposium (2011/02/11)

Ethics Reform and the Promise of Good Government, League of Municipalities keynote speaker (2010/11/18) (N.J. League of Municipalities 95th Annual Conference, Atlantic City, NJ)

Foreclosure Procedures in Turmoil, National Public Radio (2010/10/15)

Home Foreclosure Crisis, CNN (2010/10/08)