Professor Avani Mehta Sood is a social psychologist and legal scholar who joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2013. She teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, a Colloquium on Law & Psychology, and a seminar on Psychological Dimensions of Criminal Law. Sood was a Visiting Professor of Law at NYU in Spring 2021, and she will be visiting at Cornell Law School and the University of Chicago Law School in 2021-22.
Sood uses empirical methodologies, psychology theory, and legal analysis to study how legal decision makers form judgments about criminal evidence, liability, and punishment. Her research identifies where and why the legal system’s assumptions about how its decision makers operationalize criminal law doctrines, theories, and procedures are misaligned with socio-cognitive realities of human psychology. In addition, she considers legal, normative, and policy implications of these disconnects, and explores ways to resolve them. Sood has also written in the areas of international human rights law and gender justice. Her work has been published in law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, including the Stanford Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Harvard Law Review Forum, Georgetown Law Journal, California Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Theoretical Inquiries in Law.
Sood holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and was awarded the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights. She holds an A.B. summa cum laude, an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University, where she was awarded the Howard Crosby Warren Senior Prize, the Edward E. Jones Memorial Thesis Prize, the Center for Human Values Graduate Prize Fellowship, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Graduate Prize Fellowship, and the Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars.
Prior to entering academia, Sood served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Kimba M. Wood in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; worked as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; and conducted field research and trainings on legal mechanisms for redressing large-scale women’s rights violations in India and Kenya, as a research fellow with the International Legal Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Sood has also worked at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York, the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, and the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
Sood is a co-founder of the Law and Society Association’s Collaborative Research Network on Law, Society, and Psychological Science, and an Affiliate of UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research, Center for the Study of Law and Society, Institute of Governmental Studies, and Institute for South Asia Studies. She serves on dissertation committees of Ph.D. students in the Department of Psychology, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the law school’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program.
A.B., Princeton University (1999)
J.D., Yale Law School (2003)
M.A., Princeton University (2011)
Ph.D., Princeton University (2013)