Shirin Bakhshay, a legal scholar and social psychologist whose research focuses on criminal adjudication and punishment processes, has joined UCLA School of Law as an assistant professor of law. Bakhshay comes to UCLA Law from Stanford Law School, where she was a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and lecturer in law since 2020.
An award-winning scholar, writer and teacher, Bakhshay has written articles and delivered presentations on the psychological impact of the criminal justice system, including issues involving jail isolation, torture and pretrial publicity. Her current scholarship examines the psychology of punishment and explores lay beliefs toward the criminal justice system and their implications for sentencing law and penal policy. Her forthcoming article “The Dissociative Theory of Punishment” will appear in the Georgetown Law Journal, and a work in progress, with Joanna Weill and Craig Haney, is titled “Social Distance, Public Attitudes, and Prison Reform.”
Including her fellowship at Stanford Law School, Bakhshay has taught courses in psychology and the law at Mills College, where she was an assistant adjunct professor of practice, sociology and public policy, and UC Santa Cruz. Previously, she was a litigation attorney with O’Melveny & Myers in San Francisco, where her work included white-collar defense in criminal and civil investigations, high-stakes commercial litigation and pro bono criminal appellate work.
Bakhshay earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and her dissertation was titled, “Satisfying the Urge to Punish: Exploring Attitudes Towards Restorative Justice as an Alternative to Incarceration.” She also holds an M.S. in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.