Appealing to the Public

Suja Thomas

Peer and Sarah Pederson Professor of Law

Suja Thomas

Addressing a Societal Problem to Contribute to the Public Good

Thomas has always wanted to address inequity. As a law student and attorney, she engaged in public interest work representing defendants in criminal cases and plaintiffs in discrimination cases. Her experiences as an attorney enabled her to witness problems in our legal system, which disproportionately impact individuals of color. In her scholarship, she identifies such inequities and has written a book and several law review journals about the negative implications of summary judgment. She mailed copies of her articles to judges and attorneys across the country to directly engage them in her scholarship because she is committed to making change. She has also appeared on public radio, given public presentations and engaged with various media outlets to speak about her scholarship in public fora.

Thomas is currently working on a documentary to expose inequities in the justice system to the broader public using humor to help the public digest important information about the justice system.

Mutually Beneficial Exchange of Knowledge and Resources

In the advent of the Me Too movement, stemming from her expertise in discrimination law, she worked with the National Women’s Law Center to inform proposed legislation to address discrimination in the workplace.

Collaboration with Communities or Organizations

Thomas has partnered with national organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Women’s Law Center to pursue rule changes and legislation that can identify and correct inequities in the justice system. She has also partnered with community organizations, including public libraries, to share her scholarship with the larger public. In collaboration with these groups, she is able to disseminate her findings to a broad audience.


Thomas’ research has had implications for other researchers, individual members of the public, attorneys, judges and the entire judicial system. Her work has been the basis of several court arguments and unleashed an important debate in the judicial system. Further, her work has been broadly disseminated to the public. For example, her Ted-Ed animated video, “What Happened to Trial by Jury?”, has been seen by over 750,000 viewers.



Thomas has published two books: one with Cambridge University Press and the other with Oxford University Press. She has published several articles in law review journals. In addition, she has given multiple presentations to law conferences across the country, including the American Board of Trial Advocates National Jury Summit, the Northwestern University Judicial Symposium, the Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Civil Rights Training Institute.


Thomas has published several articles in the mainstream media. Perhaps most notably, she co-authored an article with Mark Cuban that was published in The New York Times. Her work has been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Slate, and the National Law Journal. She has written an amicus brief with her students. Her work has also been referenced by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. She has received two fellowships to help support a documentary that she is currently working on.

Additional Resources

To learn more about Professor Thomas’ publicly engaged research, visit the links below.