Shefali Milczarek-Desai

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Workers' Rights Clinic

Shefali Milczarek-Desai (@Shefalimdesai) is Assistant 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.

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, and critical legal theories. Her current research focuses on how paid sick time laws and policies influence the legal rights of im/migrant workers in essential industries, and how migrant workers are reclaiming their labor through worker-owned cooperatives. Her work has appeared in The Conversation, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and the UCLA Women’s Law Journal, among others.

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

SSRN Published Papers

Representative Publications

  • The Return of Typhoid Mary? Immigrant Workers in Nursing Homes, Journal of Elder Policy (Fall 2021) (co-author, with Professor Tara Sklar)
  • Soledad:  A Documentary Film (2019) (written and co-produced) (directed by Lisa Molomot) (more info available at
  • 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
    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