Paula Franzese

Professor Paula A. Franzese is the Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law and Director of the Leadership Fellows Program. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (awarded in her junior year), with high honors 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. She received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was an International Fellow, a Teaching Fellow, and the recipient of the Rosenman Prize for excellence in public law courses.

Nationally renowned for her excellence in teaching, she is the unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Student Bar Association’s Professor of the Year Award. In 2019 the award was renamed in her honor the Paula A. Franzese Professor of the Year Award. A Harvard University Press publication, (What the Best Law Teachers Do), names her “one of the 26 best law teachers in the United States” and profiles the pedagogical approach that renders her a “dazzlingly effective model of rigor, hard work, creativity and humility.” In 2020, she was named one of the Top Women in Law by the New Jersey Law Journal.

Prof. Franzese was named one of twenty Inspiring Women in Education by she knows media and has presented on education as a human right at the United Nations International Human Rights Summit, Youth for Human Rights. She 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 by Seton Hall University. She served as Distinguished Teaching and Learning Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. and has presented to teachers throughout the country on the art and science of effective teaching. She is past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Teaching Methods and Vice-Chair of the Legal Education Section of the American Bar Association.

Committed to education reform and restoring civics teaching at all grade levels, Prof. Franzese pioneered the cause of law-related education and mentoring initiatives during her tenure as President of the Justice Resource Center. She teaches civics, leadership, and character to middle-school and high school students.

A leading scholar in property law, fair housing, and government ethics, she is West Publishing’s Legend of the Law on Property and the creator of the popular Short and Happy Guide series, which features more than twenty titles aimed at rendering complex subject matter both accessible and understandable. She is the author of A Short and Happy Guide to Property, A Short and Happy Guide to Sales, A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student and other volumes.

Her empirical work on the plight of low-income tenants facing eviction has been widely cited, garnering national attention. Her scholarship shines a light on the crisis in safe and affordable housing. She has critically examined how the aims of the Fair Housing Act have been frustrated by alarming declines in stocks of affordable housing, neglect, betrayal of habitability standards, tenant blacklisting, exclusionary zoning, and gentrification. Featured on Top of Mind and Pod Curiam she concludes, “In the five decades since its ratification, the optimism of the Fair Housing Act’s drafters has yielded to drastic budget cuts, lax oversight, rising gentrification, and the NIMBY syndrome. That is unjust and certainly not ‘fair housing.’ A safe place to call home is a human right.”

Prof. Franzese has championed the right to counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction, spurred legislative reform efforts to assure enforcement of habitability standards and end tenant blacklisting, and promotes fair, safe and affordable housing initiatives at the state and federal level.

She has authored and contributed to numerous books, including Property and the Public Interest, Learning Core Commercial Law Concepts, Law and Class in America, The Affective Assistance of Counsel and Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Property. Her scholarship includes critical examination of the erosion of trust and community in housing development, the dilemma of privatization, homeowners associations, exclusionary zoning and takings law. She joined in the submission to the U.S. Supreme Court of an amicus brief in the Kelo case. She serves on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed Land Use and Environmental Law Review.

She spearheaded government ethics reform initiatives on behalf of two governors, serving as Special Ethics Counsel to Governor Richard J. Codey, Chair of the State Ethics Commission, Chair of the State Commission on Professionalism, 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 various state and local governments, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s mayoral administration in Newark, New Jersey.

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.” As Special Ethics Counsel, she and retired Justice Daniel J. O’Hern promulgated the Uniform Ethics Code, a pioneering statutory achievement that has become a model for national replication. She has published and presented on best practices for ethics reform and restoring the public trust.

Prof. Franzese is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and the recipient of numerous awards, 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, the Justice Marie L. Garibaldi Trailblazer Award and the Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid Medal, the University’s highest honor.

She served as a litigator with Cahill, Gordon & Reindel, where she was appointed to the New York City Housing Court Reform Project. She clerked for Justice Alan B. Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court.


Back to Faculty & Staff