Juhi Desai ’23, a student at the University of Virginia School of Law, was recently elected president of the Student Bar Association and began her one-year term on March 14.
The SBA regularly sponsors events, raises student concerns with faculty and administrators, and generally promotes a sense of community at law school. The president, in addition to leading these efforts, speaks at the opening ceremony of the law school.
Desai succeeds third-year law student Niko Orfanedes ’22.
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Prior training: University of Rochester, BA in Political Science, 2017
Previous work experience: I was a teacher of civics and economics, AP US history, and world history at a high school just outside of Boston during the 2017-18 school year. From 2018 to 2020, I was a primary school teacher in South Africa with the Peace Corps.
Other organizations and positions held: Admitted Student Open House Co-Chair, Peer Advisor, SBA 1L and 2L Senator, Public Interest Law Association Board of Directors (and member of the PILA Auction Team), Director of Communications for the Student Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
Future career plans: After graduating, I will work as a court-appointed lawyer. The United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world and the conditions inside many American jails and prisons are arguably human rights abuses. Later, I think it might be interesting to be a clinical professor, or to leave law and work as a community organizer. Maybe one day I will also travel around the world and live and work in hostels or on farms. That could be cool !
Preferred law course: I really enjoyed the Decarceration and Community Reentry Clinic with Professor Kelly Orians, Law of the Police I and II with Professor Rachel Harmon, and Race, Education and Opportunity with Professor Kimberly Robinson. I’m inspired by the passion they bring to their subjects and grateful for how they push me to be a deeper, more precise thinker.
What I look forward to as SBA Chairman: So many things! All! I especially look forward to working with student leaders at the law school. I also think it’s going to be a lot of fun trying to collectivize the student body and work to turn SBA into a student union.
Main objectives as President of the SBA: I want to help revolutionize the culture of law school! We must strive to build a community rooted in love where all students feel a sense of belonging. I think the SBA can help recognize this goal in a number of practical ways, including subsidizing tickets to expensive events like the Lawyers’ Ball, advocating for more accessible gender-neutral bathrooms, and hiring faculty and staff. more diverse, and creating and distributing resource guides for incoming 1Ls to put students on a level playing field as they enter law school. We plan to do all of these things, and more!
Beyond that, I believe the capitalist work culture pushes the myth that our value and value as human beings is tied to the quality of our work. I think this myth creates a lot of anxiety and a sense of inadequacy at UVA Law when students feel they are not measuring up to their peers. To that end, I want to help plan initiatives that reject the glorification of the “grit culture,” and encourage and facilitate rest, spiritual growth, and community development.