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.
- Opening the Pandemic Portal to Re-Imagine Paid Sick Leave for Immigrant Workers, 111 Calif. L. Rev., (August 2023)
- Immigrant Workers’ Voices as Catalysts for Reform in the Long-Term Care Industry, Arizona State Law Journal (forthcoming Fall 2023) (co-author, with Tara Sklar), based on original, qualitative research by the authors featured in the University of Arizona Hispanic Serving Institute Newsletter (text).
- Disentangling Immigration Policy from Tort Claims for Future Lost Wages, Journal of Tort Law (forthcoming Fall 2023)
- Aquí Entre Nos (Just Between Us): Engagement of hotel housekeepers during sociopolitical and environmental change, Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, Johns Hopkins University Press (forthcoming Fall 2023) (co-author, with Samantha Sabo, Dulce Jimenez, Alexandra Samarron, Omar Gomez, Melissa Liebert, Jill Guernsey De Zapien, Miriam Cuautle, Sara Shuman)
- The Los Angeles Times, “The U.S. needs paid sick leave. Here’s how to get it right,” May 24, 2022 (op-ed)
- OSHA has long failed vulnerable workers, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2022
- The Return of Typhoid Mary? Immigrant Workers in Nursing Homes, Journal of Elder Policy (Fall 2021) (co-author with Professor Tara Sklar)
- Why nursing home aides exposed to Covid-19 aren't taking sick leave, The Conversation, November 23, 2020 (co-author with Professor Tara Sklar)
- America's immigrant workers left extremely vulnerable, Arizona Daily Star, May 24, 2020
- Soledad: A Documentary Film (2019) (written and co-produced) (directed by Lisa Molomot) (more info available at https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZWVxw5bNXFd5C/)
- Constitutional Cities: Sanctuary Jurisdictions, Local Voice, and Individual Liberty, 50 Colum. Hum. Rts. Rev. 1 (2018) (co-author with Toni Massaro)
- Constitutional Cities, Ms. Magazine Blog, (Aug. 25, 2017)
- (Re)Locating Other/Third World Women: An Alternative Approach to Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez's Construction of Gender, Culture and Identity, 13 UCLA Women's L.J. 235 (2004)
- Hearing Afghan Women's Voices: Feminist Theory’s Re-Conceptualization of Women's Human Rights, 16 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 805 (1999)
- Complete List of 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
- 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
Arizona Risk Retention Trust, Tucson, Arizona
2008 - 2009
DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC, Tucson, Arizona
2002 - 2008
- Law Clerk
Hon. Ruth V. McGregor, Arizona Supreme Court, Phoenix, Arizona
2001 - 2002