Sunita Patel

Assistant Professor of Law
Faculty Director, UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic

  • J.D. American University Washington College of Law
  • B.A. Tulane University
  • UCLA Faculty Since 2017

Sunita Patel is an Assistant Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic. Her areas of research include police misconduct, civil rights litigation, social movement theory, and the intersection of migrant rights and criminal procedure.

Prior to joining UCLA, she held clinical teaching positions with the Civil Advocacy Clinic at American University and the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She has practice experience with notable public interest institutions, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society of New York, and the Southern Center for Human Rights. An experienced litigator, Professor Patel has appeared before administrative bodies; state, federal, and appellate courts; and human rights tribunals. She has engaged in significant litigation and advocacy on a range of issues including; policing, criminal justice processes, racial profiling, immigration detention, employment law, and international human rights, and has also provided legal counsel to numerous grassroots social justice organizations.

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 (argued in the U.S. Supreme Court this year), 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. 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. She has served as a board member for the U.S. Human Rights Network and Families for Freedom.

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


  • Articles
    • 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