Law School Mourns the Loss of Professor Robert E. Parella ‘11HON


The St. John’s Law community mourns the loss of Professor Robert E. Parella, a beloved colleague and teacher, who passed away on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Professor Parella served on the Law School’s full-time faculty for 50 years, teaching generations of students Property, Real Estate Drafting, Trusts and Estates, and other courses with warmth, wit, and compassion as the George F. Keenan Professor of Real Property Law.

A graduate of St. Peter’s College, Professor Parella earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was a Pomeroy Scholar and an editor of the Law Review. A member of the Order of the Coif, he taught at University of Michigan Law School before coming to St. John’s. Among other professional pursuits, Professor Parella served as special counsel to the New York City Board of Education and co-authored Modern Trust Forms and Checklists as well as chapters in Murphey’s Will Clauses.

Along with his achievements as an educator and a scholar, Professor Parella earned recognition from his students, colleagues, and St. John’s University. He received BALLSA’s (now APALSA, BLSA, and LALSA) Man of the Year Award in 1988. Then, after he retired from the full-time faculty in 2011, the University conferred upon him both an honorary degree and the title of Professor Emeritus, noting: “Today, St. John’s University honors a man who helped make the School of Law into the vibrant institution it is today, someone who tirelessly supports the administration and contributes his knowledge and experience to the work of the greater whole.”

Even in his retirement, Professor Parella stayed on as an adjunct professor at the Law School and was a regular presence at programs and events. Just last semester he could be found in the classroom, teaching Real Estate Transactions to the next generation of St. John’s lawyers and greeting colleagues in the hallways with his usual good cheer.

“Bob Parella was a legendary presence at St. John’s Law for 60 years,” says Dean Michael A. Simons. “When Bob joined the faculty in 1961, the Law School was still located in downtown Brooklyn. Over the years, he taught thousands of students, including several past and present members of the faculty. His joy for teaching and his love for his students was infectious. He will be deeply missed. May he rest in peace.”

Professor Parella’s lasting impact on his students is exemplified by Jonathan Sack ’89 of the law firm Sack & Sack, who many years ago endowed the Professor Robert Parella Scholarship at St. John’s Law in honor of his former professor. For more information about giving opportunities to honor Professor Parella’s memory, please contact Brian J. Woods at [email protected].