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Lawyers Trade in Their Suits for Glamour for the Annual SABA Gala

posted Oct 27, 2011, 1:29 PM by Diana Rohini LaVigne

By Diana Rohini LaVigne / NRI Achievers Magazine

San Francisco, Calif.—The 17th South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Gala was held this past Friday at the breathtaking San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.

Guests, who traded in their typical legal suits for gowns and black tie attire, arrived at the historical building while guests mingled at the cocktail reception.  An awards presentation followed dinner where community leaders were recognized. The awards included: Mentorship award to Monty Agarwal, Arnold & Porter LLC and Inderpreet Sawhney, The Chugh Firm; President’s award to Hozefa Botee, SABA Treasurer and pro bono Committee Co-chair; Community Impact award to Jayashri Srikantiah, Stanford Law School, Immigrants’ Rights Clinic; and the Trailblazer award to Councilmember Ash Kalra, City of San Jose, District 2.

"I am incredibly honored to receive the Trailblazer Award from SABA, an organization which blazed a trail for South Asian attorneys when it was started almost two decades ago. I look forward to continuing to work with SABA in ensuring that South Asians have the opportunity to make their mark in the legal community as we have been successful in doing in so many other fields," said council member Kalra.

Keynote speaker, Halim Dhanidina, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney spoke about his upbringing and explained how he always wanted to be a lawyer, despite his parents’ non approval of his career direction. In the end, he wanted the opportunity to help an underserved community and his role as Deputy District Attorney has provided this.  With parents who emigrated from Tanzania, he grew up in the 1980s when bombs that were going off around the globe and causing widespread violence and were being done so in the supposed name of the religion he shared.  Kids teased him.  He longed to be ethnically neutral and felt someone saying “you don’t even look Indian” was the highest compliment.

“So why pick a law career when there are so few people who look like us in it? Although our numbers are small, they are growing… It is the power to loose ourselves in serving the community,” explains Dhanidina.
"This year's South Asian Bar Association of Northern California gala showcased the great strides our members have made in law and public service by celebrating the successes of accomplished SABA-NC members like San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra and Stanford Law Professor Jayasri Srikantiah. With over $40,000 raised, the gala was a resounding success in raising money for public interest law school students, as well as supporting other SABA-NC programs including our pro bono legal clinics, ‘Know Your Rights’ seminar series and ongoing civil rights work. This is by far the most successful gala SABA-NC has ever had despite the economy, which speaks volumes about the strength of our organization and our sponsors,” said Kiran Jain, SABA-NC President.

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