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SABA North America’s conference features talk of advancement and diversity

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) held its 16th Annual Conference, “Rise Up and Represent,” in Atlanta last month where members in the South Asian legal community including judges, law firm leaders, in-house counsel, and lawyers discussed the rights and liberties of the South Asian community and other minorities across North America, according to a news release from the association.

The conference, held June 20-23, featured, among other panel discussions and events, a fireside chat with and longtime friend and colleague Anil Mujumdar, during which the two talked about Jones’ work defending defender of civil rights, his future plans, and the benefits of diversity and inclusion, according to the association.

The conference’s opening reception, at National Center for Civil and Human Rights, featured remarks by Hon. Justin Anand, U.S. magistrate judge for Northern District of Georgia; BJay Pak, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia; and Darrell Sutton, president of the State Bar of Georgia. Anand told attendees, “my being [on the bench] today is a testament to this organization,” the release said.

SABA North America, formerly NASABA/North American South Asian Bar Association, is a voluntary bar organization that serves as an umbrella organization to 27 chapters in the United States and Canada.

The association announced its awards to members as follows:

  • Pioneer Award recipient Yasir Naqvi, CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), Canada’s leading voice on citizenship and inclusion, and former attorney general of Ontario;
  • Public Interest Achievement Award Recipients Manohar “Mano”
    Raju, public defender for the city of San Francisco, and Shalini
    Swaroop, general counsel and director of policy at Marin Clean Energy,
    California’s first local government agency focused on renewable energy
    and combating climate change;
  • Corporate Counsel Achievement Award recipient Sedesh “Sedi” Doobay, deputy general counsel for the Global ISC and Operation Group at Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies;
  • Cornerstone Award winners, Amit Agarwal, solicitor general of Florida, Shalini Goel Agarwal of Southern Legal Poverty Center, Habib Ilahi, trial attorney at the Department of Justice, and Kirtan Patel, co-founder of KPPB Law;
  • Diversity Champions Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and Nixon Peabody;
  • Rising Stars Preetha Chakrabarti, law clerk for the Hon. Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson
    at the First Circuit Court of Appeals; Rajiv Parikh, partner at Genova Burns; Viren Mascarenhas, partner at King & Spalding LLP; and Previn Warren, partner at Jenner Block; and
  • Program Award Recipient The South Asian Women’s Attorney Network for their 2019 Bootcamps.The SABA Foundation, which supports organizations that provide critical services to the most vulnerable members of the South Asian Community, honored actor and activist  Maulik Pancholy, with its Hero Award for his work on bullying prevention among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth through the non-profit Act to Change.
    This year’s Foundation Grantees were Sakhi for South Asian Women who received a 2019 “Skills to Succeed” Grant, sponsored by Accenture, to support their Economic Empowerment Program, as well as General Grants to the South Asian Legal Clinic Society of British Columbia (SALCBC); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF); and the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN), the association said.

Conference panel topics included the past year for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The conference closed with the Annual Gala featuring keynote speaker Neal Katyal, who reflected on a history of injustices facing minorities in the United States, from Japanese internment during World War II to the current conditions of detention facilities holding migrants at the southern border.  Katyal also recounted his experience successfully defending a Guantanamo detainee in his first Supreme Court argument in 2006; he has since gone on to argue before the Court more than any minority attorney, breaking a record held by Thurgood Marshall. When discussing his recent work challenging the travel ban in Trump v. Hawaii, Katyal said, “I do think the fight is important, even if we lose sometimes.  We must fight for the constitution,” according to the association.

Ritu Jha / Indica News