History of the formation of SABA-San Diego
In October 2001, Los-Angeles based SABA Southern California (SABA-So. Cal.) approached Aditya Krishnan, a local patent attorney, about allowing San Diego to be part of SAB-So. Cal. They selected him as a representative on its board. Krishnan, with the help of SABA-So. Cal., looked up South Asian attorneys in San Diego on the California State Bar website, contacted them, and called an initial meeting. The initial meeting took place in late 2001–a small group of South Asian attorneys met at an Indian restaurant in La Jolla. The following attendees were enlisted to serve on the first Board as an affiliate organization under SABA-So. Cal.: Shivani Bommakanty, Dina Khemlani, Shabnam Miglani, Deval Zaveri, and Rupa G. Singh. In this role, the organization maintained a list serve of interested South Asian attorneys to whom it forwarded information about SABA-So. Cal. events in Orange County and Los Angeles. In early 2002, Krishnan relocated to Northern California for work, and Rupa Singh agreed to maintain the list serve. While the board members attended many great SABA-So. Cal. events in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, it became clear that there was a critical mass of local attorneys and a need for events in and about San Diego’s South Asian legal community.
In mid-2002, SABA-San Diego (SABA-SD) was established as an independent bar association for South Asian attorneys and law students in San Diego with Rupa Singh (then at Morrison & Foerster) as President; Deval Zaveri (then also at Morrison Foerster) as Secretary; Dina Khemlani (of the San Diego School District) as Treasurer; and Shivani Bommakanty (of Quade & Associates) as Membership/Outreach Chair. In 2003, Mrunal Mehta (of Best, Best, & Krieger) also joined the Board for a few months before relocating out of San Diego. During this time, SABA-SD started the process of incorporating the organization as a California non-profit; reached out to other minority bar associations through the Ethnic Relations Diversity Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association; and tried to launch a website.
In 2003, Rupa, Nita Mehta, and Vino Pajanor became SABA-SD’s 2003-2004 Board. This was the year that SABA-SD got significant publicity, including a feature article profiling the organization in the Lawyers Club newsletter. In 2003, Rupa also became a founding board member of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), and that began our affiliation to a national organization (it was originally known as the National South Asian Bar Association, but the name was later changed to NASABA to reflect the two chapters added from Canada).
In 2005, Nita Mehta became SABA-SD’s second president. Hiren Patel, then an attorney at DLA Piper, joined Rupa and Nita to form our 2005 Board. SABA-SD bid for, and were accepted as the host of, the NASABA Second Annual Leadership Retreat. SABA-SD hosted the Second Annual NASABA Leadership Retreat at the Paradise Point Resort in October 2005, for which we raised $10,000 from local firms and companies, and had a gala farewell reception at the San Diego Museum of Art (with space donated by Qualcomm, a client of then NASABA President Paul Grewal). Around this time, Rupa met Rekha, who had recently moved to San Diego, and recruited her to join the SABA-SD Board. Rupa stayed on the Board as immediate past president through early 2006, and helped Nita to recruit Lavanya Ramachandran and Sanjay Bhandari to the Board during these years. The highlight of these and the next few years included SABA-SD’s active participation in the NAPABA Regional Conference in 2007 and hosting a six-year anniversary event at Sempra in 2008.
The SABA-SD Legacy