Matthew J. Festa





Matthew J. Festa
Professor of Law

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.”

—Daniel Burnham

"There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served."

—Jane Jacobs

BA, University of Notre Dame
MPA., Murray State University
MA, Vanderbilt University
J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School


Phone: 713.646.1857

Office: 757T

Areas of Expertise: property, land use, state & local government, legal history, and national security law

Matt Festa
teaches and researches in the areas of property law and land use, state & local government, energy & environmental law, trusts & estates, legal history, and national security law. His scholarship focuses on the relation between property rights and public control in land use planning and government regulation; on the role of property rights in constitutional law and history; and on property and the rule of law in contemporary international affairs.

Professor Festa joined the Houston College of Law faculty in 2007, after serving as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Prior to teaching, he practiced in litigation, land use, environmental, and energy law at Locke Lord LLP. He served as a law clerk to federal judges on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Prof. Festa attended Vanderbilt University, where he was the Executive Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and earned a masters’ degree in history. Prior to law school he served in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, and earned a masters’ degree in public administration. He earned his undergraduate degree in history and English at the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Festa currently serves as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of International & Operational Law at the ABA-accredited Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, and is also an Instructor with the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies. He is the editor of the Land Use Prof Blog, and lives in the “Unzoned City” of Houston with his spouse, who teaches at Rice University, and their two children.

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

SSRN link:

Land Use Prof Blog:






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