Barbara Bezdek

Professor Emeritus of Law




(410) 706-8392


(410) 706-5856

Photo of Barbara Bezdek


  • BA, 1975, University of South Carolina
  • JD, 1978, Columbia University
  • LLM, 1986, Georgetown University


On the law faculty since 1988, Professor Bezdek combines her interest in the legal foundations of social change with courses designed to help students link theory and practice. Prior to joining the Maryland faculty, she worked as a public interest attorney in Washington, D.C., where she represented neighborhoods, tenant associations and housing cooperatives and litigated cases related to public health & safety and corporate responsibility.

Professor Bezdek frequently teaches Property and Real Estate Transactions. She regularly teaches the clinical seminar, Legal Theory and Practice: Community Development. Students in this experiential seminar assist clients in low-income communities through legal strategies that support the community’s self-determination of revitalization objectives. Her LTP students have had lasting impact as counsel to community development corporations, local schools and youth programs, public housing tenants, and transitional housing providers; and developed the legal framework for Baltimore’s Alley Gating and Greening Ordinance which allows neighbors to re-create grim alleys into communal green spaces.

Professor Bezdek’s scholarship and teaching explore ways to expand legal opportunities and practical capabilities of disenfranchised communities to participate politically and economically in the public-private redevelopments that impact them. Her most recent publications examine public interests and community claims in urban redevelopment projects. In 2010, she co-edited HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (4th ed. 2010) (with Kushner et al), and contributed the chapter Community Development and Revitalization to that textbook; and also published Community Recovery Lawyering: Hard Lessons from Post-Katrina Mississippi, DePaul Journal of Social Justice (Fall 2010) (with Mississippi Center for Justice colleagues). Her proposal, Putting Community Equity in Community Development: Resident Equity Participation in Urban Redevelopment, was published in AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, Malloy & Davidson, 2009.

Professor Bezdek was named a U.S. Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Law in 2010-2011, which enabled her to teach land use, law and community rights in economic development, at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and lecture in many cities throughout the People’s Republic of China. Bezdek was the founding faculty advisor for the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class (formerly known as Margins). She was a founder and board chair of the Faith Fund Inc., a community development loan fund formed by an interfaith consortium in Central Maryland to address the credit needs of local housing and facilities developers. She received the University of Maryland’s Public Servant of the Year Award in 2005. She serves on the advisory committee for Community Greens, an Ashoka Foundation initiative to extend the success of our pilot alley-greening effort in Baltimore.


Housing & Community Development: Cases and Materials (4th ed. 2010) (with others). Abstract

Book Chapters

To Have and to Hold? Community Land Trust as Commons, in The Cambridge Handbook of Commons Research Innovations 164 (Sheila R. Foster & Chrystie F. Swiney eds., 2021).

Putting Community Equity in Community Development: Resident Equity Participation in Urban Redevelopment, in Affordable Housing and Public-Private Partnerships (Robin Malloy & Nestor Davidson eds., 2009). Abstract


Digging into Democracy: Reflections on CED and Social Change Lawyering After #OWS, 77 Maryland Law Review Endnotes 16 (2018). Abstract

Policing that Perpetuates Baltimore's Islands of Poverty and Despair, 16 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class 153 (2016). Abstract

Citizen Engagement in the Shrinking City: Toward Development Justice in an Era of Growing Inequality, 33 Saint Louis University Public Law Review 3 (2013). Abstract

Dreaming in Chinese: Accountable Development, 27 Maryland Journal of International Law 48 (2012). Abstract

Community Recovery Lawyering: Hard-Learned Lessons From Post-Katrina Mississippi, 4 DePaul Journal of Social Justice 97 (2010) (with others). Abstract

Alinsky's Prescription: Democracy Alongside Law, 42 John Marshall Law Review 723 (2009). Abstract

To Attain "the Just Rewards of So Much Struggle": Local Resident Equity Participation in Urban Redevelopment, 35 Hofstra Law Review 37 (2006). Abstract

To Forge New Hammers of Justice: Deep-Six the Doing-Teaching Dichotomy and Embrace the Dialectic of "Doing Theory", 4 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class 301 (2004). Abstract

Language Matters: Designing State and County Contracts for Services Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, 35 Clearinghouse Review 508 (2002) (with others). Abstract

Contractual Welfare: Non-Accountability and Diminished Democracy in Local Government Contracts for Welfare-to-Work Services, 27 Fordham Urban Law Journal 1559 (2001). Abstract

Reflections on the Practice of a Theory: Law, Teaching and Social Change, 32 Loyola-L.A. Law Review 707 (1999). Abstract

Religious Outlaws: Narratives of Legality and the Politics of Citizen Interpretation, 62 Tennessee Law Review 899 (1995). Abstract

Clinical Law Programs of the University of Maryland School of Law, 9 Journal of Professional Legal Education 111 (1992). Abstract

The CUNY Law Program: Integration of Doctrine, Practice and Theory in the Preparation of Lawyers, 9 Journal of Professional Legal Education 59 (1992). Abstract

Legal Theory and Practice Development at the University of Maryland: One Teacher's Experience in Programmatic Context, 42 Washington University Journal of Urban & Contemporary Law 127 (1992). Abstract

Reconstructing a Pedagogy of Responsibility, 43 Hastings Law Review 1159 (1992). Abstract

Silence in the Court: Participation and Subordination of Poor Tenants' Voices in Legal Process, 20 Hofstra Law Review 533 (1992). Abstract