A white woman with brown hair smiling at the camera

Paula A. Franzese

Visiting Professor


Political Science


American Government & Politics


Professor Paula A. Franzese is the Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School 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 Youth for Human Rights Summit. 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.

Prof. Franzese pioneered the cause of law-related and civic education during her tenure as President of the Justice Resource Center, the largest non-profit provider of law-related and civic education for grades four through twelve. She teaches civics and leadership 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 law series, which features more than twenty titles aimed at rendering complex subject matter both accessible and understandable.

Her empirical work on the plight of low-income tenants facing eviction has been cited as a basis for state law reform efforts. 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, spurring legislative reform efforts to assure enforcement of habitability standards and reform the practices of tenant reporting services.  Her work 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.

Her full CV can be found below.

J.D., Columbia University School of Law, 1983

  • Rosenman Prize for excellence in public law courses
  • International Fellow, Columbia University School of International Affairs
  • Teaching Fellow, Property and Civil Procedure
  • Student Practitioner, Morningside Heights Legal Services
  • Director, First Year Moot Court Program
  • President, Student Bar Association

B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (awarded junior year), Barnard College, 1980

  • Frank Gilbert Bryson Prize
  • Marion Churchill White Prize
  • Alpha Zeta Fellowship
  • Davidson-Foreman Foundation Award
  • Barnard Alumnae Fellowship
  • President, Student Government Association

  • Civil rights and civil liberties
  • First amendment law
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Property and commercial law

Both courses are 50-student limited-enrollment lecture courses with a prerequisite of an introductory-level American politics course. The syllabi are on-line.

  • POLS BC 3254 First Amendment Values
  • POLS BC 3521 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


Disrupting Dispossession: How the Right to Counsel in Landlord-Tenant Proceedings Is Reshaping Outcomes, 52 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1255 (2022) (Lead Article, Symposium Issue, American Cities Struggling with Economic Justice Reform)

The Anatomy of Government Ethics Reform: Lessons Learned, A Path Forward, 35 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy (2021)

An Inflection Point for Affordable Housing: The Promise of Inclusionary Mixed-Use Redevelopment, 52 UIC J. Marshall L. Rev. 581 (2020) (Lead Article)

Promises Still to Keep: The Fair Housing Act Fifty Years Later, 40 Cardozo L. Rev. 3 (2019) (with S. Beach)

A Place to Call Home: Tenant Blacklisting and the Denial of Opportunity, 45 Fordham Urban L. J. 661 (2018)

Learning Core Commercial Law Concepts, with Epstein, Barnes & Tu (West Academic, 2d ed., 2022)

When Home Is Uninhabitable: Realizing Essential Tenant Safeguards, New Jersey Landlord Tenant Law, LexisNexis (2020)

A Short and Happy Series (Twelve Titles), West Academic (2022) (creator and editor)

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


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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

The Future of the Judiciary, PBS State of Affairs (Oct. 2022)

There’ll Be a Tragic Wave of Evictions unless Legislature Acts Soon, nj.com (June 26, 2020)

Tenants Should Have the Right to Legal Representation Before Eviction, Star-Ledger Guest Columnist (April 2018)

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Government Segregated Housing in America, New Jersey Law Journal (May 14th, 2018)

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

A Safe Place to Call Home: A Conversation with Sen. Cory Booker, Prof. Matthew Desmond and Prof. Paula Franzese, Drew University Forum on Housing Justice (Oct. 12, 2018)

An Agenda for Landlord-Tenant Law Reform, Newark Star Ledger (February 2017)

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

Why Go to Law School, NJ Law Journal (October 30, 2017)

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

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)

What the Best Law Teachers Do: Stuff You’ll Want to Steal, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Section on Teaching Methods (January 6, 2023)

The Power of Story in Teaching Property Law, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Section on Property Law (January 7, 2023)

How Experienced Faculty Can Renew Their Passion for Teaching, Scholarship, and Service, AALS webinar (October 20, 2022) (with Mark Alexander and Erwin Chemerinsky)

The Future of the Judiciary, PBS State of Affairs (September 20, 2022)

Government Ethics at the Crossroads: Toward Restoring the Public Trust, Symposium on The Ethics of Government Service, Notre Dame Law School (Feb. 12, 2021)

The Future of Opportunity Zones: The Biden Administration and Beyond, Fordham Urban Law Journal Symposium (Feb. 26, 2021)

Elevating Tenants: Revolutionizing Tenant Protections, Symposium, 100 Years of Rent Control, Fordham Urban Law Journal (January 18, 2019)

The Call to Service: Honoring Dr. King's Legacy, Symposium on the Life and Legacy of Dr. King, Seton Hall University (January 21, 2019) (Presenter)

Barriers to Federal Housing Assistance, Sen. Cory's Booker's Public Housing Summit (September 10, 2018)

Dismantling Structural Racism: Engaging Neighbors, Leaders, and Government, 2018 Anti-Poverty Summit (October 26, 2018)

Fair Housing as a Human Right,  Shelterforce (2018)

Housing Justice: A Women's Rights Issue, Rutgers Law School and Women's Rights Law Reporter Symposium (April 9, 2018) (Keynote)

The Color of Law: The Harsh Realities of De Facto and De Jure Discrimination in Housing, A Conversation with Richard Rothstein (May 16. 2018)

The Fair Housing Act 50 Years Later, Cardozo Law School Symposium (March 28, 2018)

A Place to Call Home: Affordable and Decent Housing as a Human Right, Under One Roof (2017)

The Implied Warranty of Habitability Lives: Making Real the Promise of Landlord-Tenant Reform, Axelrod Lecture (March 24, 2017)

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