Gerald E. Frug

Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law

Hauser 402

617-495-3019

Assistant: Kathy Goldstein / 617-496-4183

Biography

Gerald Frug is the Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Educated at the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School, he worked as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., and as Health Services Administrator of the City of New York before he began teaching in 1974 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1981. Professor Frug’s specialty is local government law, a subject he has taught for more than thirty years. He has published dozens of articles on the topic and is the author, among other works, of a casebook -- Local Government Law (5th edition 2009, with David Barron and Richard T. Ford) – and two other books: City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation (Cornell University Press 2008, with David Barron), and City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls (Princeton University Press 1999).

Professor Frug’s work has focused on local government issues both in the United States and around the world. In the United States, he has written about specific cities (such as Boston and New York) and on topics that affect the United States generally (such as regionalism and city power). Colleagues who teach and write about urban studies from other disciplines at Harvard and elsewhere – in particular, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the London School of Economics – have been an important influence on this work. Outside the United States, he was one of the originators of a series of conferences, called Urban Age, administered by the London School of Economics. These conferences have brought together academic and local officials whose work focuses on the cities where the conferences take place. Cities involved have included Shanghai, Mexico City, Mumbai, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, and London. Professor Frug has also lectured widely on his own, including as the James Stirling Memorial Lecturer on the City in Montreal and London in 2010-2011.

In addition to teaching local government law, Professor Frug has frequently offered a seminar, called Green New York, co-taught with attorneys from the Law Department of the City of New York and Professor David Barron, which explores the legal problems facing the environmental agenda of the New York City government. Other seminars he has taught have covered a wide range of topics, ranging from Tocqueville to Postmodern Legal Theory to Comparative Local Government Law. And, by no means least, he has taught Contracts virtually every year since the beginning of his teaching career.

Areas of Interest

Gerald E. Frug, City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls (Princeton Univ. Press 1999).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
American metropolitan areas today are divided into neighborhoods of privilege and poverty, often along lines of ethnicity and race. City residents traveling through these neighborhoods move from feeling at home to feeling like tourists to feeling so out of place they fear for their security. As Gerald Frug shows, this divided and inhospitable urban landscape is not simply the result of individual choices about where to live or start a business. It is the product of government policies--and, in particular, the policies embedded in legal rules. A Harvard law professor and leading expert on urban affairs, Frug presents the first-ever analysis of how legal rules shape modern cities and outlines a set of alternatives to bring down the walls that now keep city dwellers apart. Frug begins by describing how American law treats cities as subdivisions of states and shows how this arrangement has encouraged the separation of metropolitan residents into different, sometimes hostile groups. He explains in clear, accessible language the divisive impact of rules about zoning, redevelopment, land use, and the organization of such city services as education and policing. He pays special attention to the underlying role of anxiety about strangers, the widespread desire for good schools, and the pervasive fear of crime. Ultimately, Frug calls for replacing the current legal definition of cities with an alternative based on what he calls "community building"--an alternative that gives cities within the same metropolitan region incentives to forge closer links with each other.
Gerald E. Frug, The Central-Local Relationship 25 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 1 (2014).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
There are three common ideas about how to organize the city-state-federal relationship. All three, I think, are misguided. The first seeks to consolidate power in a centralized government-sometimes at the national level, but more often at the state or regional level. The second is the opposite idea: it seeks to empower city governments by giving them autonomy to make their own decisions about the policies that shape their future. The third seeks a middle course, dividing the functions of government into different categories, with each level of government having jurisdiction over some, but not all, of the categories. After sketching what is wrong with these three ideas, I will offer a different approach.
Gerald E. Frug, Law and Uncertainty: A Comment on Karl-Heinz Ladeur, 12 German L.J. 548 (2011).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Critical Legal Studies
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
Type: Article
Abstract
In his insightful article, From Universalistic Law to the Law of Uncertainty, Karl-Heinz Ladeur addresses a hotly debated issue within the American critical legal studies movement. What would be the effect on our understanding of the nature of law, he asks, if we really accepted the post-modernist claim that neither social reality nor our conception of the self has a fixed or determinate meaning? In the United States, the issue Professor Ladeur discusses is usually presented as an argument about the role of post-structuralism or deconstruction in a critical legal analysis. Do these ways of interpreting law, it is asked, go too far in asserting the openness of the legal system and thereby erode the political impact of critical legal theory?
Gerald E. Frug, Voting and Justice, in Justice and the American Metropolis 201 (Clarissa Rile Hayward & Todd Swanstrom eds., 2011).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
,
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Abstract
This chapter argues that injustice in the twenty-first-century metropolis is mainly the product of our legal and institutional framework. Voting laws enable some citizens to make decisions that greatly affect other citizens, who have no political voice or effect. Determining who is eligible to vote for local elected officials is a key component of the organization of local decision making. Sometimes nonresidents are allowed to vote—but sometimes they are not. If the rules that determine the local electorate were changed, then a very different group of people would be able to influence the decisions that local officials make about matters such as zoning, education, and police behavior. Thus, changing these rules has the potential to alter the relationship between social justice and city police.
Gerald E. Frug, A "Rule of Law" for Cities, 10 Hagar 63 (2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
This essay focuses on one aspect of the relationship between law and space: the idea that cities be governed by the rule of law. The core value of the rule of law, it is suggested, is the need to restrain the exercise of arbitrary power-to protect the weak from the strong. Two different kinds of neighborhoods are analyzed to expose the current difficulties in establishing the rule of law in this sense: neighborhoods dominated by informal housing, and neighborhoods dominated by economic development aimed at the goal of becoming a global city. To address the current difficulties facing the establishment of the rule of law in these neighborhoods, the essay proposes institutional reforms designed to enable a reinvigorated local democracy that strengthens the current legal system.
Gerald E. Frug, The Seductions of Form, 3 Drexel L. Rev. 11 (2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Philadelphia has more than a dozen business improvement districts, entities commonly called BIDs.' The papers in this Symposium describe each of them in some detail. This kind of study is both valuable and unusual. Although BIDs have been subject to academic analysis in general terms,2 this Symposium offers the first examination that I know of the different BIDs within a single city. It thereby enables a comparative view within one legal system of what a BID is and what it does. My focus here will concentrate on one question concerning Philadelphia's BIDs: in creating these kinds of institutions, whom exactly has the legal system authorized to tap precisely what kinds of resources to do what? As I argue below, Philadelphia's BIDs offer a wide variety of answers to each of the elements in this question. These differences generate for me a puzzle—why have so many different neighborhoods adopted the same legal form to accomplish such different objectives? I turn to this puzzle below, after I examine the differences among Philadelphia's BIDs.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, Boston Bound: A Comparison of Boston’s Legal Powers With Those of Six Other Major American Cities (Bos. Found. 2007).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Book
Gerald E. Frug, Beyond Regional Government, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 1763 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
"[A]lmost no one favors metropolitan area government," Anthony Downs has observed, "except a few political scientists and intellectuals."1 As a result, he said, "[p]roposals to replace suburban governments completely are ... doomed." Downs came to this conclusion after describing the significant economic, environmental, and social costs imposed by the current fragmentation of American metropolitan areas into dozens, sometimes hundreds, of independent municipalities. Although this fragmentation has its defenders, I shall assume in this Article that Downs is right on both of his points: that the current fragmented system of governance is unacceptable and that a regional government is not a viable alternative. The issue that this Article addresses is the relationship between these two assumptions: how can America correct the inequalities and inefficiencies that the current form of governance produces if regional government is not an option?
Gerald E. Frug, Is Secession from the City of Los Angeles a Good Idea?, 49 UCLA L. Rev. 1783 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
Are these attempts to secede from the City of Los Angeles a good idea? What is the idea? Is secession a form of privatization—an effort to isolate some parts of the City of Los Angeles from the problems found in others? Or is it the opposite, an example of what one might call publicazation—an attempt to reinvigorate local democracy by bringing government closer to its constituents? Any answer to these questions will be controversial. Even my use of the word "secession" is controversial. Those in favor of the process don't use the word. Neither does the governing statute. Instead they describe what is going on as a "special reorganization" (a process that allows "detachment" and the creation of the new city simultaneously.) Given this level of controversy, this Article cannot resolve the secession issue. I simply offer a way to think about it.
Gerald E. Frug & David J. Barron, The Census As a Call to Action, 29 Fordham Urban L. J. 1387 (2002).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
Type: Article

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Hauser 402

617-495-3019

Assistant: Kathy Goldstein / 617-496-4183