Sunita Patel

Practitioner-In-Residence, Civil Advocacy Clinic

Office: Room 347A
Phone: 202-274-4498
E-mail: vCard


Sunita Patel is a Practitioner-in-Residence in the Civil Advocacy Clinic. Prior to arriving at WCL, she was a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, an international human rights organization, where she focused on racial justice litigation and legal support for community organizations. Her significant cases included Floyd v. City of New York, a successful class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department alleging illegal and racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices; Turkmen v. Ashcroft, a class action on behalf of Muslim and Arab men challenging post-9/11 round-ups and punitive treatment in federal prison; and NDLON v. ICE, a multi-agency FOIA action resulting in watershed disclosures about the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities. She took a leave from CCR to direct and teach in the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School during the Spring 2014 semester. Before joining CCR, Professor Patel received a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship to work at The Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit in New York, where she represented immigrant detainees in removal proceedings and advocated for independent community oversight of detention operations. Professor Patel also served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Ivan L. R. Lemelle in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Prior to law school, Professor Patel investigated prison conditions in Alabama and Georgia with the Southern Center for Human Rights. She has appeared on national news outlets including CNN, MSNBC and NPR.





Degrees & Universities

  • J.D., American University Washington College of Law 2005 (magna cum laude)
  • B.A., Tulane University 2000

  • + Selected Presentations

    • Sunita Patel, Invited Panelist, Seeking an End to Racial Profiling (American Constitution Society, National Convention, June 20, 2014).
    • Sunita Patel, Invited Panelist, Criminalizing Immigrant Women: Race and the Particular Vulnerability of Detention and Removal (Underprotected and Overpoliced: Women, Race and Criminalization, UCLA Law Review Symposium, Jan. 27, 2012).
    • Sunita Patel, Invited Presenter, Conditions of Confinement Roundtable (Litigating Law Enforcement Misconduct in the Immigration Context, National Immigration Project, May 22, 2011).
    • Sunita Patel, Invited Panelist, Arizona’s SB1070 and the Movement it Sparked (Annual Sparer Symposium, University of Pennsylvania, Phila., Pa., Sept. 14, 2010).
    • Sunita Patel, Invited Panelist, Immigration Detention: Due Process Challenges and Potential for Change (American Constitution Society Panel Event, Apr. 13, 2009).