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B.S., 2001, Millsaps College
J.D., 2005, Tulane University Law School (rank 1st)

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Melissa T. Lonegrass

Harriet S. Daggett - Frances Leggio Landry Professorship, Bernard Keith Vetter Professorship in Louisiana Civil Law Studies, and Wedon T. Smith Professorship in Civil Law
Professor of Law


Melissa Lonegrass teaches and writes on Louisiana civil law and comparative law, landlord-tenant law and contract law. Professor Lonegrass’ recent scholarship in the field of landlord-tenant law has focused on national and international trends involving the expansion of tenant rights and the role that comparative legal scholarship plays in fostering those trends. Her current work in progress, Reconceptualizing Tenancy as Property—A Theoretical and Doctrinal Approach, explores the ways that legal classification and framing have impacted the development of landlord-tenant law in the United States. Other recent works have emphasized the importance of cross-border study in the reformation of landlord-tenant law both in the United States and abroad. Professor Lonegrass’ recent scholarship in the field of Louisiana civil law has focused on legal methodology generally and, in particular, codification of law. Her recent publication, The Anomalous Interaction Between Code and Statute—Lessor’s Warranty and Statutory Waiver, 88 Tul. L. Rev. 423 (2014) examines the relationship between codified and uncodified law through the lens of a frequently-litigated issue of residential lease. In her developing piece, Lawmaking, Legitimacy, and the “Hidden Law” of Legislative Commentary, she critiques the manner in which legislative commentary is drafted, published and ultimately used by courts.

Professor Lonegrass is a member of the Council of the Louisiana State Law Institute and is on the organization's Semantics, Style and Coordinating Committee. She is the Reporter of the Landlord and Tenant Law Committee, which is leading a legislative reform effort to expand the rights of residential tenants in Louisiana. She previously served as the Reporter of the Mineral Rights—Unsolicited Offers Committee, which drafted legislation recently signed into law that protects Louisiana landowners from overreaching by mineral royalty purchasers. She also serves as the member of numerous other Law Institute committees, including the Lease of Movables Committee, the Common Interests Ownership Regimes Committee and the Lesion Committee. She is active in the state and local bar associations and she is currently serving as the Louisiana Bar Foundation Co-Scholar-in-Residence.

Professor Lonegrass is a leader in legal education. She has previously served as the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA). She currently serves as the Chair of the New Scholars Committee of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) and serves as a member of the Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Workshop Committee and the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop Committee of that organization.

Professor Lonegrass teaches Western Legal Traditions: Louisiana Impact; Obligations; Sale and Lease; and Successions, Donations and Trusts. She is interested in legal pedagogy and assessment and speaks frequently on those issues at conferences, including the annual meetings of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) and the annual meetings of the Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA).

Professor Lonegrass holds a J.D. from the Tulane University Law School. Prior to joining the faculty in 2008, she worked as an Associate at Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore in New Orleans, where she specialized in civil defense, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical and medical device defense.

Selected Publications

Eliminating Retaliatory Eviction in England and Wales—Lessons from the United States, 75 La. L. Rev. 1071 (2015).

The Anomalous Interaction Between Code and Statute—Lessor’s Warranty and Statutory Waiver, 88 Tul. L. Rev. 423 (2014).

A Second Chance for Innovation—Foreign Inspiration for the Revised Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, 35 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 905 (2013).

Finding Room for Fairness in Formalism—The Sliding Scale Approach to Unconscionability, 44 Loy. Chi. L.J. 1 (2012).

Convergence, Contort, and Consumer Protection: Landlord Liability for Defective Premises in Comparative Perspective, 85 Tul. L. Rev. 413 (2010).