Jyoti Nanda

Visiting Associate Professor
Last Updated: July 10, 2024

Jyoti Nanda, professor of law at Golden Gate University (GGU), studies criminal and juvenile law, focusing on how legal actors, institutions and doctrines have created, ignored or responded to the dramatic expansion of the carceral state. In 2022, GGU awarded her the Justice Jesse W. Carter Faculty Scholarship Award for her commitment to impactful and cutting-edge scholarship. She is interested in the intersections of criminal law and social hierarchies shaped by race, age, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and immigration. Her research draws on her background in ethnic studies and her experience as a youth advocate and civil rights lawyer to better understand contemporary legal practices within the historical context of racial and economic stratifications in the United States. Nanda’s 2012 article Blind Discretion: Girls of Color in the Delinquency System served as the framework for a national report on the adultification of girls of color in our criminal justice system. She has written on how race functions to ascribe and criminalize disability within the special education context in over-policed and over-surveilled schools. In 2022, she published a groundbreaking paper on the flaws of juvenile probation, arguing that it is a deceptive system leading youth deeper into the criminal system. In 2023, Nanda was named a Salzburg Global Fellow and invited as a youth scholar to two international conventions of experts addressing youth violence and safety in the Netherlands and Austria.

Nanda’s articles have been published in the UCLA Law Review, Columbia Journal of Race & Law, Nevada Law Journal, Lewis & Clark Law Review and the Disability Law Journal, and she is a co-editor of the country’s leading textbook of youth law, Children and the Law (8th ed.). Nanda’s research and writing appear in the national news media in print, TV and radio. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship and advocacy. Nanda teaches Criminal Law, Professional Responsibility, Youth & Justice, Critical Race Theory, Rebellious Lawyering, Problem-Solving in the Public Interest, and Comparative Racial Justice & Social Justice Law. Nanda recently was visiting professor at UC College of Law, San Francisco, and she taught a summer 2023 law class at the University of Paris Nanterre. In 2023-2024, she is teaching at the USC Gould School of Law (Fall) and as a visiting professor at UC Davis School of Law (Spring).

Nanda also serves as the American Bar Association’s reporter for the forthcoming ABA Youth Justice National Standards. She is the principal investigator with the Vera Institute and the African American Policy Forum on the Girls/Gender Non-Confirming Youth Research Project. The project is a comprehensive case file review of more than 200 closed case files of pregnant detained girls – to end the incarceration of all girls in L.A. County and beyond. She also co-founded Youth Justice Navigator (YJN), an innovative project working with system-impacted youth; YJN is a web-based app to help educate and empower youth and their families to navigate the complexities of the court process.

Before joining GGU in 2019, Nanda taught for 16 years at UCLA School of Law in the Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law programs. While at UCLA, she co-taught a course with Distinguished Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, and for five years, she founded and ran UCLA’s Youth & Justice Clinic to train and empower law and social work students to holistically enforce the unmet educational rights of children in juvenile criminal cases with the goal of diversion. Nanda began her career as one of 25 nationally selected Skadden Fellows and practiced civil rights law at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational, Fund. Inc. (LDF). She is a graduate of Northwestern Law School, where she was editor of the Northwestern Law Review, and UC Berkeley. A scholar, teacher and community activist, Nanda is a proud immigrant, born in Nairobi, and the daughter of parents who were refugees and immigrants from Pakistan/India and Kenya.


  • BA, University of California, Berkeley
  • JD, Northwestern University School of Law