Class of 2024: Meet Shivani Parikh


Shivani Parikh ’24 knew she was interested in law since she was in the eighth grade. In high school, she interned at the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, which sparked an interest in addressing the legal needs and rights of South Asian communities.

At Fordham Law, Parikh served as president of the North American South Asian Law Students Association and the diversity, equity, and inclusion and advocacy chair of Fordham’s South Asian Law Students Association during her 2L year. She was the only student in the Class of 2024 to have simultaneously participated in the Stein Scholars Program in Public Interest Law and Ethics, Crowley Program in International Human Rights, and Realizing Excellence and Access in the Law (REAL) Scholars Program at Fordham Law.

Parikh will begin her legal career working at Queens Legal Services as a housing defense attorney this fall, while also building out the reach and scope of the new South Asian Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit advocacy organization she founded earlier this year.

What is your hometown?

New City, NY.

Where did you study before Fordham Law?

Cornell University, where I earned a B.S. in development sociology.

What are your areas of interest?

I am interested in civil rights, racial justice, and policy advocacy.

Why did you choose Fordham Law?

I chose Fordham Law for its location in New York City where I knew I wanted to practice after graduation. As a public interest student, it was invaluable to be able to get involved in grassroots organizing and community-based mobilization outside of the classroom. Other draws included the mentorship and opportunities provided by the Stein Scholars Program, the breadth of its public service work in New York City, and the quality and rigor of a Fordham Law education.

What were you involved in at the Law School?

I was a part of the North American South Asian Law Students Association as the Board of Advisors’ chairwoman and president emeritus; Fordham National Lawyers Guild as a 3L advisor and former co-chair; Stein Scholars Program; Crowley Program in International Human Rights at Fordham’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice; REAL Scholars Program as a scholar and mentor; Fordham Law Voting Rights and Democracy Forum as the DEI editor; and on the Institute on Religion, Law and Lawyer’s Work’s Student Advisory Board.

While I was enrolled in the Access to Justice seminar last year, I was nominated as the student voice on the keynote roundtable (“Cultivating Civil Legal Justice Leaders to Address the Structural Challenges of Poverty, Injustice and Inequality”) for the annual virtual New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice conference. This was the highlight of my time at Fordham Law because I was clear on my theory of change from the time that I started. The course and the opportunity to share my perspective coincided and allowed me to thread together my own commitment to ensuring that legal services reach South Asian American workers and families.

What was your favorite moment at Fordham Law?

My favorite experience at Fordham Law was being a 2L mentor for six 1Ls in the REAL Scholars Program, of which I was a member of the inaugural cohort. My most memorable law school moment was attending the Stein Prize Dinner in 2022 through my role of serving on the Stein Council.

What are your career plans?

I will be working at Queens Legal Services as a housing defense attorney. I also founded the South Asian Legal Defense Fund (SA LDF) in January 2024 and, alongside the five lawyers on the board of directors, we look forward to fundraising and building SA LDF’s reach, scope, and capacity to defend and advance our community’s civil rights for the decades to come. [SA LDF provides vital community education and advocacy for myriad cultural, national, and religious identities and meets the needs of direct service nonprofits by providing access to attorneys and through litigation addressing injustice in all forms.]

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming 1Ls?

Everyone defines success differently. Stick to the approach that works for and resonates with you, regardless of whether or not it meets anyone else’s standard.

Did you have any important mentors during law school?

I am proud to call Fordham Law 2013 alumna Aminta Kilawan-Narine my mentor. She modeled for me the possibilities beyond formal legal work that a J.D. can empower someone to do, as well as the importance of thinking intersectionality, cultivating a long-term vision, and giving yourself grace.

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