Sunita Patel

Assistant Professor of Law
Faculty Director, UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic

Sunita Patel is an Assistant Professor of Law and the founding Faculty Director of the UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic. Her current scholarship examines how policing embeds itself into healthcare and other areas of care work. More generally, her research and teaching interests lie in police litigation, social movements, and structural inequality. She serves as a core faculty member for the Critical Race Studies and Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, and an affiliated faculty member of the UCLA Law School Promise Institute for Human Rights and the Criminal Justice Program.

Her 2020 article “Jumping Hurdles to Sue Police,” received the AALS Civil Rights Section Junior Scholar award. She received the UCLA Community and Service Praxis Award—a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion honor for faculty with innovative community approaches to service, teaching, and scholarship.

Prior to joining UCLA, Professor Patel held clinical teaching positions at American University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. An experienced litigator, she has appeared before administrative bodies; state, federal, and appellate courts; and human rights tribunals. She has also provided legal counsel to numerous grassroots social justice organizations.

Professor Patel served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Ivan L. R. Lemelle in the Eastern District of Louisiana and was previously awarded a prestigious Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship. Professor Patel’s influential cases included Floyd v. City of New York, a watershed successful class action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department’s discriminatory stop and frisk practices and Turkmen v. Ashcroft (Zieglar v. Ashcroft before the U.S. Supreme Court) a class action Bivens suit on behalf of Muslim and Arab men challenging senior officials in the U.S. government for their roles in the post-9/11 round-ups and punitive treatment in federal prison. She has served as a board member for the U.S. Human Rights Network and Families for Freedom. Prof. Patel graduated law school magma cum laude (order of the coif).

Students are welcome to meet with Professor Patel to discuss public interest career opportunities, including fellowship proposals, and judicial clerkships.


  • J.D. American University Washington College of Law
  • B.A. Tulane University


  • Jumping Hurdles to Sue the Police, 104 Minnesota Law Review 2257 (2020). Full Text
  • Toward Democratic Police Reform: A Vision for Community Engagement Provisions in DOJ Consent Degrees, 51 Wake Forest Law Review 793 (2016). Full Text
  • Performative Aspects of Race: “South Asian, Arab, and Muslim” Racial Formation After September 11, 10 UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal 61 (2005). Full Text