Lisa T. Alexander and Thomas W. Mitchell, preeminent scholars in property and community development law reform, and co-founders and former directors of the Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law at Texas A&M University School of Law, have joined the Boston College Law School faculty.
Alexander, whose work focuses on the centrality of law in making housing markets both more efficient and more equitable, was named a professor of law. Mitchell is the second Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Professor, succeeding long-time BC Law faculty member George Brown. The chair was established in honor of Fr. Drinan, former BC Law dean and the first Catholic priest elected to Congress.
Amidst the United States’ longstanding national housing crisis, Alexander has conducted extensive research in legal and extra-legal rights to property, housing, and urban space. Most recently, she has examined how cities and states can use tiny-home villages to ameliorate homelessness and provide sustainable affordable housing. Through this and other work, she provides insights to policymakers on how to reimagine housing options and property rights for today’s world.
“I am elated to join the Boston College Law School community,” said Alexander. “Boston College’s Jesuit tradition of service to others resonates with my long-standing approach to scholarly inquiry, teaching, and public reform. BC Law’s location in Greater Boston—an intellectual center that’s facing daunting housing challenges—and the school’s particular commitment to merge theory and praxis to solve public problems, make it a perfect place for me to enhance my intellectual interests, teach and learn from engaged students, and advance justice in U.S. housing markets and beyond.”
Alexander received a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a juris doctorate from Columbia University School of Law. She was a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School from 2006 to 2017. At Texas A&M, she held a joint appointment, serving as a professor in both the School of Law and in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.
She was named a 2018 Texas A&M University Presidential Impact Fellow, the first person in the history of Texas A&M School of Law selected for the honor. Her most recent article on tiny houses appeared in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, and she has published in the Minnesota Law Review, William & Mary Business Law Review, and Fordham Urban Law Journal, among many other publications.
In 2020, Alexander and Mitchell were selected by the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Black Law Students Association to receive the Dr. Sadie Alexander Leadership Awards for their outstanding work in the study of property law, affordable housing, and legislative reform.
That same year, Mitchell was selected for a MacArthur Fellowship (commonly known as the “Genius Grant”) in recognition of his work “reforming long-standing legal doctrines that deprive Black and other disadvantaged American families of their property and real estate wealth.” In 2021, Mitchell received the Howard University Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement; past recipients include former Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first African American justice, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Earlier this year, he was selected for the American Bar Association’s Jefferson Fordham Award for Advocacy, one of the ABA’s premier awards for attorneys with exceptional careers.
Mitchell’s areas of expertise include property and land use law, estate planning, minority property ownership, legal reform, and race and inequality. At BC Law, in addition to teaching and research, Mitchell will serve as director of a new program, the Initiative on Land and Housing Rights. He is a prolific author with two books and dozens of articles, book chapters, essays, and policy briefs to his credit. His presentations at various conferences and symposia number more than 100, and he frequently appears in the news media with more than 100 interviews in just the past few years, including many with nationally prominent media outlets.
“I am thrilled and truly honored to be joining Boston College Law School and Boston College more generally,” said Mitchell. “BC Law is a dynamic law school, and one with an outstanding faculty, a vibrant scholarly community, a robust commitment to experiential learning, numerous outstanding specialty programs, wonderful students, and great staff members. As an engaged scholar and legal reformer who seeks to tackle injustices in property law, BC Law will be a great home for me given the school’s deep social justice commitments and the many ways it plays a positive role in the wider world—both in Massachusetts and beyond.”
Mitchell received a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, a juris doctorate from Howard University, and a master of laws degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he later served on the faculty from 2000-2017.
“Lisa Alexander and Thomas Mitchell bring a wealth of knowledge that will enlighten our students and widen our scholarly pursuits,” said Diane M. Ring, interim dean of the Boston College Law School and the Dr. Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar. “They will enhance the expertise for which our already strong faculty is well known.”
Phil Gloudemans | University Communications | October 2022