Shefali Milczarek-Desai

Distinguished Public Service Scholar; Associate Clinical Professor of Law; Director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic; Co-Director of the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program

Shefali Milczarek-Desai (@Shefalimdesai) is Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic, 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 instructs the next generation of attorneys in client-centered and cross-cultural lawyering through representation of low-wage immigrant and migrant workers throughout Arizona’s borderlands. Under her supervision, law students have 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 immigrant 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 immigrants including for the American Public Health Association, the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Women Lawyer’s Association, and the College of Law. 

Professor Desai writes at the intersection of employment/labor law, immigration law, critical legal theories, and movement law theory. Her current research focuses on how paid sick time laws and policies influence the legal rights and well-being of immigrant workers in essential industries, racial justice for immigrant women nursing home aides working in long-term care, and working alongside migrant workers who want to reclaim their labor through worker-owned cooperatives.  

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 in the mountains, preparing Indian food, and reading to her sons. 

Curriculum Vitae

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

  • Director, Workers' Rights Clinic
    James E. Rogers College of Law
    2018 - Present
  • 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