Maureen Brady

Assistant Professor of Law

c/o OAA Griswold 2S

Assistant: Ashley Davis / 617-495-7653

Biography

Molly Brady is an assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches property law and related subjects. Her scholarship uses historical analyses of property institutions and land use doctrines to explore broader theoretical questions. Her current research projects involve the evolution of nuisance rules, the privatization of public space, and state constitutional takings law.

Previously, Professor Brady taught at the University of Virginia School of Law, where she received the 2019 UVA Student Council Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2018 Z Society Distinguished Faculty Award for “one outstanding member of the University’s faculty who has positively impacted the student body,” and an invitation to the Seven Society 27th Annual Monticello Dinner Series for “exemplary scholarship and transformative instruction of students.” Her recent article, “The Forgotten History of Metes and Bounds,” won the Association of American Law Schools’ 2019 Scholarly Papers Prize for junior faculty members in their first five years of law teaching.

Professor Brady received an AB summa cum laude in history from Harvard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Harvard-Radcliffe Foundation for Women's Athletics Prize for the top female scholar-athlete. Professor Brady then obtained her JD from Yale Law School, where she was the two-time recipient of the Parker Prize for legal history scholarship and was awarded the Quintin Johnstone Prize in Real Property Law, the Jewell Prize for an outstanding contribution to a Yale Law School journal, and the Cullen Prize for the best paper written by a first-year student. Following graduation, she served as a clerk to Judge Bruce M. Selya on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and practiced at Ropes and Gray in Boston as a corporate associate focusing on intellectual property transactions. After leaving practice, she was in the first graduating class of the PhD in Law program at Yale University.

Areas of Interest

Maureen E. Brady, Property and Projection, 133 Harv. L. Rev. (forthcoming, 2020).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Constitutional Law
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
First Amendment
,
Torts
,
Property Rights
,
Real Estate
Type: Article
Abstract
In cities across the country, artists, protestors, and businesses are using light projections to turn any building’s façade into a billboard, often without the owner’s consent. Examples are legion: “Believe Women” on a New York City Best Buy; a scantily clad male model on the side of an apartment building; a nativity scene on the Los Angeles chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Two courts have considered claims by owners seeking to stop these projections under theories of trespass and nuisance. In each case, the courts held that because light is intangible and the projections result in no economic harm to the property, the common law affords no relief. This Article argues that property law can and should address projection claims by private owners. It traces the history of property tort claims involving light, explaining how the law developed to emphasize economic and physical harm and identifying the forgotten strands of doctrine that nonetheless support liability for targeted projections. Projections are forms of appropriation: they disrupt the owner’s use and control, but they also cause dignity and privacy harms by exploiting the owner’s realty toward unwanted ends. Protections for these noneconomic interests have long been parasitic on trespass and nuisance, but the light projections expose a gap between the two forms of action. This Article offers a pathway to mend the gap despite hurdles in both nuisance and First Amendment law. More generally, the projection cases teach broader lessons about the development of the property torts, the relationship between privacy and property, and the nature of property itself.
Maureen E. Brady, The Forgotten History of Metes and Bounds, 128 Yale L.J. 872 (2019).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Legal History
,
Property Rights
,
Real Estate
Type: Article
Abstract
Since long before the settling of the American colonies, property boundaries were described by the “metes and bounds” method, a system of demarcation dependent on localized knowledge of movable stones, impermanent trees, and transient neighbors. Metes and bounds systems have long been the subject of ridicule among scholars, and a recent wave of law-and-economics scholarship has argued that land boundaries must be easily standardized to facilitate market transactions and yield economic development. However, historians have not yet explored the social and legal context surrounding earlier metes and bounds systems—obscuring the important role that nonstandardized property can play in stimulating growth. Using new archival research from the American colonial period, this Article reconstructs the forgotten history of metes and bounds within recording practice. Importantly, the benefits of metes and bounds were greater, and the associated costs lower, than an a historical examination of these records would indicate. The rich descriptions of the metes and bounds of colonial properties were customized to the preferences of American settlers and could be tailored to different types of property interests, permitting simple compliance with recording laws. While standardization is critical for enabling property to be understood by a larger and more distant set of buyers and creditors, customized property practices built upon localized knowledge serve other important social functions that likewise encourage development.
Maureen E. Brady, The Damagings Clauses, 104 Va. L. Rev. 341 (2018).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Property Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
State & Local Government
,
Legal History
,
Eminent Domain
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
Abstract
Twenty-seven state constitutions contain a clause prohibiting the “damaging” or “injuring” of property for public use without just compensation. Yet when compared to its relative, the Takings Clause of the Federal Constitution—which says that private property cannot be “taken” for public use without just compensation—the ways in which state courts interpret and apply their “damagings clauses” have remained opaque and virtually unstudied. This Article recovers the hidden history of the state damagings clauses. It traces the clauses to the threats to private property posed at the turn of the twentieth century as a result of rapid infrastructural improvement. These state constitutional provisions were meant to fix perceived inequities resulting from strict application of takings law: many jurisdictions would not recognize a right to compensation when public works affected use rights and drastically devalued property but did not physically invade or appropriate it. Drafters envisioned the damagings clauses as a powerful bulwark for property owners whose livelihoods and homes were affected yet not touched by public works. However, as state courts were tasked with the brunt of the interpretive work, their rulings coalesced around a variety of doctrinal limitations that severely undercut the clauses’ potency. As a result, modern interpretations of the clauses mainly provide coverage in a variety of contexts where the offending activity would already qualify as a physical-invasion taking under most federal precedents. This Article argues that the damagings clauses deserve broader applications in condemnation law. Damagings comprise a more limited and historically supported category than regulatory takings, for which courts have long awarded compensation. Moreover, courts already try to mandate compensation for some of these types of injuries by manipulating ordinary takings law, leading to unnecessary doctrinal confusion. As a new wave of infrastructural growth looms, it is time for professors and practitioners to return their attention to these forgotten provisions of the state constitutions.
Maureen E. Brady, The Lost “Effects” of the Fourth Amendment: Giving Personal Property Due Protection, 125 Yale L.J. 946 (2016).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Property Law
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Fourth Amendment
,
Constitutional History
,
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Personal Property
,
Property Rights
Type: Article
Abstract
In addition to “persons, houses, [and] papers,” the Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures of “effects.” However, “effects” have received considerably less attention than the rest of the categories in the Fourth Amendment. Recent Supreme Court opinions on Fourth Amendment searches reintroduced the word “effects,” and yet they did so without a definition of the word, an understanding of its history, or a clear doctrinal theory. In the absence of a coherent approach to “effects,” many lower courts apply the standard Fourth Amendment test: they ask whether the government has violated the claimant’s “reasonable expectation of privacy.” However, many lower courts protect or decline to protect personal property by examining the individual’s expectation of privacy in the property’s physical location. These courts hold that individuals have no expectations of privacy in personal property that is unattended in public space. This Article argues that personal property in public space should receive greater constitutional protection than is provided by these cases, because of the privacy and security interests inherent in ownership and possession. The history surrounding the Fourth Amendment provides evidence that the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures was connected to the law prohibiting interferences with another’s possession of personal property, including dispossession, damage, or unwanted handling. To restore this connection, this Article uses guidance from personal-property law to propose a framework for identifying Fourth Amendment interests in effects based on their qualities and environment. This intervention would grant effects the constitutional protection they deserve.

Clerkships

Education History

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c/o OAA Griswold 2S

Assistant: Ashley Davis / 617-495-7653