Indian-American and South Asian-American lawyers from around the country met in Washington, D.C., July 13-16, for the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of North America’s 14th Annual Convention.
The theme of the convention was “Making Monumental Strides,” recognizing the rising profile of the lawyers or South Asian origin, several of whom have national reputations, and the rising number who have been appointed judges over the last few years.
Attorney’s like Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, Neal Katyal, the attorney leading the charge against the temporary travel ban by the Trump administration, and judges like Srikant ‘Sri’ Srinivasan, who is on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, are a few of numerous well-known attorneys of Indian descent, who attended the convention. Speakers at the convention and on panels included Bharara, Katyal, and judges Srinivasan, Amul Thapar, Justin Anand, Vince Chhabria, Jessy Lall, Amit Mehta, Raja Rajeswari, Ravi Sandill, and Sanjay Tailor.
For the first time, SABA included a “Lobby Day” as part of the program, during which members met Congressional staffers. and their staffers about issues of importance to the South Asian bar.
“We were gratified by the enthusiasm of our members and the warm reception we received by offices on both sides of the aisle and in both Houses of Congress,” a press release from SABA said.
Several lawmakers attended the opening reception, including Reps. Judy Chu, D-CA, Joe Crowley, D-NY, Raja Krishanmoorthi, and Darren Soto, D-FL. Also present was Patrick McGlone, president of Washington, D.C. Bar Association.
Incoming President of SABA Rishi Bagga, from Florida, took over from immediate past-president Vichal Kumar. Bagga emphasized the role of lawyers in responding to an increase on crimes against the South Asian community. “Most of us are the first generation of lawyers in our family” Bagga is quoted saying. “And as such, we have a responsibility to serve our community. We have a responsibility to counsel our community. We have a responsibility to advocate for our community. We have a responsibility to lead our community. This is not an option – it is our duty. Because our community’s future depends on us, our community’s lawyers,” Bagga said.
A special segment “Chai Chat” hosted by Peter Karanjia of Davis Wright Tremaine, featured Pioneer Award recipient Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells, and focused on Katyal’s career including landmark cases such as the ongoing State of Hawaii, et al. v. Trump, his time as Acting Solicitor General of the United States, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
In another in-depth look, Walmart Director of Privacy Rebecca Davis spoke with Mayer Brown partner and former National Security Agency general counsel Raj De about the latest challenges in cybersecurity, a hot-button topic in law firms and corporations.
The Convention closed with z Gala featuring keynote speakers Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first South Asian woman elected to the US House of Representatives, and Bharara, who received the Cornerstone Award from SABA.
The SABA Foundation’s Annual Benefit a part of the Convention, honored Gold Star father and Pakistani-American attorney Khizr Khan as the night’s keynote. Additionally, the Foundation was able to provide grants for Heart Women & Girls, Saheli, Asha for Women, and SABA Washington.