Levin College of Law

Property law professor and theorist to examine legal fallout from housing crisis

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida’s housing market continues to face record numbers of foreclosures, what are the legal ramifications for property law attorneys? On Wednesday, March 17, at 11 a.m. Lee Anne Fennell, property law theorist and University of Chicago Law School professor, will use the housing crisis to examine the complex relationship between property rights and continuity of possession. Fennell will be on the University of Florida Levin College of Law campus to deliver the Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property. The free lecture, titled “Possession Puzzles,” will be held in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom (room 180). The law school community is encouraged to attend.

Fennell said a primary rationale for property rights is the capacity to deliver the benefits of secure possession, but making property entitlements easier to break apart and alienate can also increase the risk of dispossession.

“Cutting back on the choices afforded to homeowners is an alternative that comes with a high price tag – diminished access to real property,” Fennell said. “During my lecture, I hope to provide insight on how relevant tradeoffs might be approached, and how property bundles might be structured in residential contexts to advance stable possession without sacrificing access.”

Fennell received her JD magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1990. She came to the University of Chicago Law School as a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law in 1999, after practicing at Pettit & Martin, the State and Local Legal Center, Washington, D.C., and the Virginia School Boards Association. In 2001, she became an associate professor at the University of Texas School of Law and in 2004, an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. She was promoted to professor at Illinois in 2006 and returned to the University of Chicago Law School faculty as a professor in 2007. Fennell is the author of The Unbounded Home: Property Values Beyond Property Lines (Yale University Press).

“In the past decade, Professor Fennell’s creative mind has produced some of the most provocative real property scholarship,” Wolf said. “We are very excited that she is joining the list of distinguished experts who have visited UF College of Law under the auspices of the Wolf Family Lecture.”

The lecture series was endowed by a gift from UF Law Professor Michael Allan Wolf and his wife, Betty. Wolf, the Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government Law, is the general editor of a 17-volume treatise, Powell on Real Property, the most referenced real property treatise in the country, which is regularly cited by the courts, including several citations in the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year, Wolf condensed the 60 year-old treatise into Powell on Real Property: Michael Allan Wolf Desk Edition (LexisNexis 2009) and recently co-authored Land Use Planning and the Environment: A Casebook (Eli Press).

“It is a great honor to join the list of accomplished speakers who have given the Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property,” Fennell said. “I am excited to have the chance to exchange ideas with members of the university’s College of Law community on a property topic of such immediate relevance and enduring resonance.”

Past scholars who have delivered the Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property include Thomas W. Merrill, Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and Gregory S. Alexander, A. Robert Noll Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.

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Published: March 11th, 2010

Category: News

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