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, Consumer, and Privacy, Data & Cybersecurity 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.

Contact: chirag@sabachicago.org.

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

Sapna Khatri is a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Sapna is a member of the ACLU’s Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project, and is involved in all aspects of the Project’s litigation, policy advocacy, public outreach and education. She has worked on a variety of issues within the Project, such as religious refusals, maternal mortality, telemedicine, access to reproductive care, employment discrimination, and HB-40 implementation.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Sapna was a litigation associate at Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis, where she worked on data privacy, cybersecurity, advertising law, and a variety of commercial litigation matters. She received a J.D. from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and was managing editor of their Global Studies Law Review. Sapna was recognized as Public Service Student of the Year upon graduating from law school and is currently a Fellow at the ACLU of Illinois. Sapna received a B.A. in International Studies, cum laude, and B.J. in Journalism, magna cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is admitted to practice law in Missouri.

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

After serving in Rockford, IL as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Hanoch matriculated to NIU Law, motivated to serve the legal needs of the immigrant community. In law school, Hanoch organized the National Latina/o Law Student Association’s moot court competition as NLLSA’s Attorney General in Boston, MA. He also received public interest awards from the Illinois State Bar Association, the Diversity Scholarship Foundation and NIU College of Law for his pro-bono work. Hanoch’s experiences gave him insight into human trafficking, social security disability benefits and homelessness, and Muslim civil rights during the travel ban. Hanoch currently the Staff Attorney at Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors where he works with low-income immigrants to help them gain protections in the U.S. and earn legal status. He is also active in a number of bar associations and currently serves as the Vice President of Public Relations for the South Asian Bar Association of Chicago. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in 2010 and his Juris Doctor from NIU College of Law in 2017.

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

As a Client Relationship Manager at Envoy Global, Nidhi builds and manages successful partnerships with clients to provide companies with the technology solutions they need to send their employees where opportunities arise around the world, and support foreign workers through a streamlined and transparent immigration process.

Prior to joining Envoy Global, Nidhi was an Associate Director at CCS, where she advised mission-driven organizations on restructuring and improving their operations. Previously, Nidhi worked at Ernst & Young, where she advised clients on global workforce mobility matters as well as health and welfare benefits.

Outside of work, Nidhi previously served on the SABA Chicago Executive Board as VP of Public Affairs (2016) and as General Director (2017). She has also served on the Leadership Committee of the Advocacy Council at Women Employed, and collaborated with the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute on civic engagement opportunities. In addition, Nidhi is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Net Impact Chicago.

Nidhi graduated from University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Brain, Behavior, & Cognitive Sciences, and Political Science. She received her law degree from University of Illinois College of Law in 2013.

Neha Nigam, General Director

Neha Nigam is a litigation associate at Winston & Strawn LLP. She focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation in state and federal courts, regulatory and internal investigations, and SEC enforcement actions. She has represented individuals and corporations in matters involving business torts, securities litigation, government investigations, and product liability.

Aside from the SABA Chicago Executive Board, Neha is on the Junior Leadership Board of the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Field Associates (an auxiliary board of the Field Museum). Neha received a B.S. in Political Science and History from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Novaira Paul, General Director

Novaira Paul is an attorney at Banner & Witcoff. She focuses her practice on intellectual property litigation and trademark prosecution and counseling. She has experience representing clients in a wide variety of industries, including consumer products, telecommunications, and entertainment services. Prior to practicing as a lawyer, Novaira owned and operated a photography company, focusing on engagement portraits and family portraits. She also worked as a paralegal at a boutique medical malpractice law firm in San Diego before making the decision to go to law school.

Novaira previously served on the SABA Chicago Executive Board as a General Director (2019). She received her J.D. from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and her B.A. in International Business from San Diego State University. She is admitted to practice law in Illinois and California.

Ajay Shah, General Director

Ajay is the CEO of Globetrotters Engineering Corporation. Ajay became CEO in August of 2017 after having worked as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of the Corporation for several years. In this role Ajay provides the strategic vision and the leadership in execution of the firm’s goals.

As CEO, Ajay Shah is ultimately responsible for executing the vision of the company. Mr. Shah is an attorney in Illinois. Mr. Shah received his Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics from Purdue University at West Lafayette. Mr. Shah then obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most recently, Mr. Shah completed the OPM 49 program at Harvard Business School.

Mita Shewakramani, General Director

Mita Nirmal Shewakramani graduated from the Pennsylvania State University's Dickenson School of Law and was sworn into the Illinois Bar Association in October of 2013. Since opening her solo practice in 2015, Regal Law Group LLC, Mita has assisted clients in numerous areas of the law, including real estate, commercial transactions, estate planning, and breach of contract. In addition to practicing law, Mita is a managing real estate broker. Her brokerage firm primarily focuses on commercial and residential leasing and investment sales. Mita is also actively involved in her family businesses Regal Jewels and Sari Sapne located in the heart of the South Asian community: Devon Avenue. As a showroom manager passionate about clothing and jewelry sales, Mita enjoys the bustle and hustle of retail, and being a part of the important celebrations South Asians love commemorating in gold. Having trained with the Gemologist Institute of America, Mita is certified to appraise diamonds, as well as her personal favorite gem-pearls! Some personal hobbies include scuba diving, archery, training for the next big race, and enjoying nature walks with her labradoodle Tony.

Sheetal Parikh, IAC Clinic Co-Director

sheetal

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

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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.