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Wolf family hosts Harvard professor for property law lecture

Joseph Singer

Harvard Law Professor Joseph Singer delivered the fourth annual Wolf Family Lecture to students, faculty and guests Tuesday at UF Law. (Photo by Vincent Massaro)

By Alyssa Cameron (3L)

Harvard Law Professor Joseph Singer, a nationally recognized expert in property law, discussed what William the Conqueror, the subprime crisis and the Tea Party have in common before a packed audience April 5 in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center.

The fourth annual Wolf Family Lecture titled, "Property Law as the Infrastructure of Democracy," explored how American property law has served as the foundation for democracy in the United States.

Singer pointed out one bright side of the subprime crisis: that it would never again be difficult to explain to students why you cannot package certain kinds of property rights. He also finds it odd that the subprime crisis spurred the Tea Party, which believes that having a large government is negative, because the government should have provided more oversight of the financial industry.

Singer discussed the contradiction between traditional principles of contract law and property law. "You can't have absolute freedom of contract and full ownership rights," he said.

The question we should ask ourselves, he said, is "what are the minimum standards for market and property relationships in a free and democratic society that treats each person with equal concern and respect?"

The Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property was endowed by a gift from UF Law Professor Michael Allan Wolf and his wife, Betty. The Wolf family organized the lecture series for several reasons, Wolf said, one of which was to bring outstanding property law experts to UF to expose them to the "excellent student body and our outstanding set of colleagues."

Singer's lecture will be published in Powell on Real Property, the most referenced real property treatise in the country. Wolf is the general editor of the 17-volume treatise and was "so happy Joe joined us and convinced us that the restraints of law can set you free."