South Asian Bar
Association of Chicago


Serving Chicagoland's South Asian Community

2019 SABA Chicago Board

Chirag Patel, President

Chirag H. Patel is Senior Counsel in the Gordon & Rees Chicago office, and a member of the firm's Commercial Litigation and Employment practice groups. Chirag represents clients in litigation matters throughout the United States and has a particular focus on technology related issues.

Chirag has successfully represented clients in following areas: Technology, Data, and E-Commerce; Consumer and Class Action Defense; Commercial and Creditors' Rights; and Employment, Trade Secrets, and Restrictive Covenants.


Aileen Bhandari, President Elect

Aileen Bhandari is an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County.  Currently she is in the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Felony Trial Division.  She has been an Assistant State’s Attorney for over 14 years.  She has served the people of Cook County in numerous assignments including Child Support Enforcement, Domestic Violence and Sex Assault cases.  She has prosecuted hundreds of felony cases and conducted various jury trials. Aileen has served as Treasurer of the Indian American Bar Association and was a past Chair of the Judicial Evaluation Committee for the Indian Bar Association (SABA).  Aileen has worked on the Asian American Coalition Lunar Celebration Dinner, was a Co-Chair for the Political Forum committee and was a committee member of the Asian American Festival planning committee. Aileen’s other community involvements include serving on the Asian American Advisory Council for State Treasurer, Judy Barr Topinka and Alexi Giannoulias for several years. She also served on the Asian Advisory Council for former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.  Aileen Bhandari earned her Law Degree in 2002 from the DePaul University College of Law where she also served as President of the Student Bar Association 2002.

Shekar Jayaraman, Treasurer

Shekar Jayaraman is the founder of Jayaraman Law, LLC – with offices located in downtown Chicago and Oak Brook, IL. His practice focuses primarily on Estate Planning, Corporate Formation, Corporate Governance and Real Estate Law.

Prior to staring Jayaraman Law, Shekar was a Judicial Clerk for a United States Magistrate, focusing heavily on violent crimes.  He earned an LL.M. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in Business and Corporate Governance, and has served under the Ohio Secretary of State as a Regional Director,  handling Business Services and Elections. While
in law school, Shekar externed for a United States Magistrate for the summer after his first year, and was selected as a Fellow for the Janet D. Steiger Fellowship for the summer after his second year.

Outside of practicing law, Shekar enjoys spending time hiking, rock climbing, and teaching spin classes.

Sapna Khatri, Secretary

Priti Nemani, VP of Programming

Priti Nemani is the principal attorney of Nemani Law, a boutique law firm providing personalized and experienced legal representation to clients throughout Chicago and northern Illinois in a wide variety of commercial and residential real estate transactions, general corporate matters, estate planning, probate and trust administration.

In addition to her law practice, Priti is a published author, and her scholarship has appeared in the University of Hawaii’s Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal, the University of California-Berkeley’s Asian American Law Journal, the Illinois Bar Journal, and the Kane County Bar Briefs.

Priti is a proud graduate of the Culver Academies, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and Northern Illinois University’s College of Law. Priti is a member of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, the Dynamic Professional Women’s Network, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Kane County Bar Association, the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Women’s Council of Realtors, the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, and she proudly supports The Goldie Initiative for Women in Commercial Real Estate.

Hanoch Kanhai-Zamora, VP Public Relations

Piya Mukherjee, General Director

Piya Mukherjee is an Assistant Attorney General in the Public Access Bureau at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.  In the past, Piya worked as an immigration attorney and as an advocate supporting victims of domestic violence with organizations such as Apna Ghar and New York Asian Women's Center.

Piya received her law degree from The John Marshall Law School in 2014. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006, with a double major in English Literature and International Studies.    

Bharathi Pillai, General Director

Bharathi Pillai is a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Bharathi works on a variety of civil liberties issues including free speech, LGBT rights, voting rights, criminal justice, and immigrants’ rights. She has also worked on institutional reform cases involving efforts to increase police oversight and accountability and challenging the discriminatory deployment of police officers.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Bharathi served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel in the Northern District of Illinois. She was previously an Arthur Helton Global Human Rights Fellow at People’s Watch, a grassroots human rights organization, in Madurai, India and a litigation associate at the law firm of Ropes & Gray in New York. She received a J.D. from the New York University School of Law and was an editor on the NYU Environmental Law Journal. She received a B.S. summa cum laude in Psychology and Finance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is admitted to practice law in Illinois and New York.

Payal Shah, General Director

Payal Shah is a health care attorney and works on regulatory compliance and contract issues at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. Prior to joining Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Payal worked as Assistant Counsel at the Illinois Office of Senate President, John J. Cullerton, in Springfield, Illinois. She also clerked at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Health Care Bureau and at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Payal also serves as Co-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association, Alliance for Women Committee and as a national Board Member for the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum. Payal received her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis with a concentration in health care law and her B.S. in Finance from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is admitted to the bars in Illinois, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and District of Columbia.

Saranya Raghavan, General Director

Saranya Raghavan is an attorney in Winston & Strawn’s litigation group. She focuses her practice on intellectual property litigation, with an emphasis on patent litigation. She has experience representing clients in a wide variety of industries and technologies, including telecommunications, mobile devices, computer software, financial products and services, and consumer products. In addition to her litigation focus, Saranya has experience prosecuting dozens of utility patent applications in the electronic and computer arts directed to computer software, Internet-based applications, graphical user interfaces, financial products and services, insurance products and services, and business methods. Saranya also has experience preparing validity, freedom-to-operate, and patentability opinions.

Before transitioning to the legal industry, Saranya was a lead software engineer at Orbitz Worldwide where she designed and developed consumer-facing Java applications for booking travel packages online. Saranya earned a B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Purdue University, and a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Nidhi Chaudhary, General Director

Neha Nigam, General Director

Novaira Paul, General Director

Ajay Shah, General Director

Mita Shewakramani, General Director

Sheetal Parikh, IAC Clinic Co-Director


Sheetal has been an active member of SABA Chicago for over 5 years, including serving as the VP of Pro bono from 2011 to 2013.

She has been an in house attorney for the wealth management business of a large financial services firm for over 5 years.  Prior to that, Sheetal was an associate at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg.  She attended the University of Chicago for her undergraduate studies and obtained her law degree from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Sameen Zia, IAC Clinic Co-Director


Sameen Zia earned her law degree from New England Law Boston in 2010.  She is a founding shareholder of Zia Ilic Ltd. and focuses her practice on litigation matters involving family law including divorces, child support, child custody, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and orders of protection.