Deepika Sharma is a clinical assistant professor of law and the founding director of the Housing Law and Policy Clinic at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. She joined USC Gould after 15 years as a lawmaker and litigator. Most recently, Sharma served in newly created roles as a director of housing security initiatives and policy for the Los Angeles Mayor and for Councilmember Nithya Raman. In these roles, she drafted tenant protective legislation and strengthened initiatives aimed at ensuring that vulnerable tenants remained housed during the global pandemic. Prior to her policy roles, she was the supervising attorney at the Eviction Defense Network (EDN) where she litigated over a dozen bench and jury trials. Prior to EDN, she spent six years as senior attorney at Public Counsel (PC) and led the affirmative housing litigation unit. Notably, at PC, she led a ground-breaking multi-building Fair Housing Act case challenging the discriminatory harassment and predation against tenants rampant in gentrifying neighborhoods leading to a $2.5 million settlement. The case gained national media attention and is lauded for its novel settlement term that set aside housing for voucher holders.
Sharma’s distinguished legal career also includes prior experiences as the director of legal services for Mental Health Advocacy Services, serving as a Title VII and Title IX officer at UCLA, an associate in the Litigation Department of Morrison & Foerster’s Los Angeles office, and working abroad for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She is well known for litigating cases that have resulted in published decisions that broadened rights for tenants, including Martinez v. Optimus, Crasnick v. Marquez and Nivo 1 LLC v Antunez. Sharma is frequently invited to speak at conferences including the NAACP, Legal Defense Fund’s Civil Rights Institute and she has conducted several workshops aimed at training advocates on trial skills and housing law.
Sharma earned her JD from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007. While in law school, she was a clerk for the East Bay Community Law Center in the housing unit and for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She earned her BA degree in mass communications from UC Berkeley in 2000, where she graduated with the highest honors.