Shefali Milczarek-Desai

Distinguished Public Service Scholar; Associate Professor of Law; Co-Director of the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program

Shefali Milczarek-Desai (@Shefalimdesai) is Associate Professor of Law and Co-Chair of the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. She is the recipient of the College of Law’s Distinguished Public Service Scholar Award and a Sustainable Economies Law Center Fellow. 

Professor Desai teaches employment and labor law courses, torts, and seminars on emerging issues at the intersection of migration and labor. Her current scholarship employs critical legal frameworks to analyze immigrant and migrant (“im/migrant”) workers’ access to paid sick leave, elevate the voices of im/migrant women long-term care aides based on original, qualitative research, examine the potential of im/migrant, worker-owned, cooperative business entities, and scrutinize the use of immigration status evidence in tort cases for future lost damages. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in The California Law Review, The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, The UCLA Women’s Law Journal, The Arizona State Law Journal, and The Journal of Tort Law, among others. Professor Desai also engages in creative projects such as the award-winning documentary film, Soledad

Previously, Professor Desai directed the Workers’ Rights Clinic and instructed students in client-centered and cross-cultural lawyering through representation of low-wage im/migrant workers throughout Arizona’s borderlands. She and her students worked on cases resulting in published decisions in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Arizona District Court upholding the rights of asylum seekers and im/migrant workers. Professor Desai also has created, launched and taught in-person and online immigration courses in the College of Law’s undergraduate law, master’s in legal studies, and foreign diplomat training programs. 

Professor Desai’s clinical and online coursework reflects collaborations with Harvard Law School’s Labor and WorkLife Program, Northern Arizona University’s Center for Health Equity Research’s Immigrant Research, Practice and Policy Program, the Mexican Consulate, and the Tucson Immigrant Workers’ Cooperative Network. She regularly speaks and presents on issues affecting im/migrants including for the American Association of Law Schools, the American Public Health Association, the American Society on Aging, the Wisconsin International Law Journal, the American Constitution Society, the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Women Lawyer’s Association, and the University of Arizona. 

Prior to teaching, Professor Desai assisted in litigating Flores v. Arizona, a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the rights of English Language Learners in Arizona public schools, practiced at the DeConcini McDonald law firm where she was elected shareholder, and clerked for Vice-Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor at the Arizona Supreme Court. She is a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, a Notre Dame Law School Feminist Jurisprudence award winner, and has published numerous articles and essays as well as a book manuscript selected as a finalist in an international competition. Her favorite pastimes include hiking, reading, and being with her family. 

SSRN Published Papers

Representative Publications


  • J.D. James E. Rogers College of Law 
    2001, cum laude
  • M.A University of Arizona Women's Studies
    2001 - Created and was first graduate of JD/MA Women’s Studies joint-degree program
  • B.A. Whittier College
    1997, summa cum laude

Work Experience

  • Associate Professor of Law 
    James E. Rogers College of Law
    2023 - present
  • Director, Workers' Rights Clinic
    James E. Rogers College of Law
    2018 - 2023
  • Co-Director, Immigrant Justice Clinic
    James E. Rogers College of Law
    2019 - 2020
  • Attorney, Speaker, Author
    Employment Law, Immigration and Asylum Law, Tucson, Arizona
    2010 - present
  • Attorney
    Arizona Risk Retention Trust, Tucson, Arizona
    2008 - 2009
  • Attorney
    DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC, Tucson, Arizona
    2002 - 2008
  • Law Clerk
    Hon. Ruth V. McGregor, Arizona Supreme Court, Phoenix, Arizona
    2001 - 2002
Employment Law
Immigration Law
Labor Law & Workers' Rights Law