South Asian Bar
Association of Chicago

 

Serving Chicagoland's South Asian Community

SABA Chicago Board

Debjani Dasgupta, President

Debjani Dasgupta serves as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation and Eligibility for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Prior to that, she was an Administrative Law Judge for the same agency, handling medical vendor appeals and fair hearings. Debjani also served as an Assistant State's Attorney for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in the Special Prosecutions Bureau’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit, Juvenile Justice Bureau, and Civil Actions Bureau. Debjani earned her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School and her B.B.A. in Finance from Loyola University of New Orleans.

 

Chirag Patel, President Elect

Chirag Patel is a commercial litigation associate at Williams, Bax & Saltzman P.C. Chirag's practice includes breach-contract, creditor's rights in bankruptcy, commercial foreclosure, and business torts. Chirag's practice also focuses on asset recovery litigation, including fraudulent transfer actions, veil piercing litigation, and post-judgment supplementary proceedings.

 

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.

Arsalan Nayani, Treasurer

Professional Portrait by Photographer, Dusty Holoubek - Arsalan

Arsalan Nayani is an associate in the Government practice group at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago.  Prior to attending law school, Arsalan worked for a financial services firm in California. He has taken the four required examinations to become a certified public accountant.
Arsalan received his law degree from DePaul University College of Law in 2015. He graduated magna cum laude from Auburn University in 2010 where he earned his bachelor's degree in Economics.

Maliah Siddiqui, VP Public Relations

Maliha Siddiqui is an associate attorney at Reed, Centracchio & Assoicates, LLC, and focuses her practice in all areas of family law, including child custody, child support, maintenance, visitation, property division, parentage, and domestic violence.

Maliha graduated with honors from the University of Illinois in Chicago with a double major of English and Political Science. She received a Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law.

As a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area, Maliha is dedicated to public service and the legal community. Maliha serves as the Secretary of the Chicago Legal Clinic’s Auxiliary Board. Maliha is also an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, serving on the board of the Young Lawyer’s Division and Diversity Committee.

Outside of the legal community, Maliha volunteers her time at PAWS Chicago and plays indoor volleyball.

Laxmi Sarathy, General Director

Laxmi Sarathy has a wide spectrum of expertise in commercial and tax matters. Laxmi draws from her extensive experience in bankruptcy practice involving consumer and businesses in resolving most litigation and tax issues - whether in state court or federal. She also serves on the board of the Chicago DanzTheatre Ensemble, a non profit organization striving to make arts education possible in public schools, and is the legal advisor to Suzy's Place, an organization devoted to providing shelter for victims of domestic abuse.  She serves as a moot court judge in the CBA moot court competitions and as a Speaker on CLE panels. 

Abhinav Lohia, General Director

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Abhinav Lohia is a dual qualified attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New York and the Republic of India. He is a Member of Davies & Associates, Global Investor & Business Practice, Chair’s Davies & Associate’s India & South Asia Practice Team. He is also the Deputy Managing Attorney of the firm’s Chicago Office and serves on the firm’s Global Advisory Board. He specializes in U.S. Immigration Law (Business & Investor Visa Practice).

Abhi got admitted in the Bar Council of Delhi, India in 2007. He practiced law at the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Delhi for five years before moving to the United States. He graduated from the Masters of Law (LL.M.) program at the George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C. in 2013. 

Abhi has been practicing U.S. Immigration law since 2013 and represents High Net Worth Individuals and Corporates from India and South East Asia. 

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.    

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.

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.

Sajida Ali, General Director

Sajida Ali is Associate General Counsel at BMO Financial Group, supporting the U.S. General Counsel in overseeing the legal, compliance and investigative & security services functions for the organization in the U.S.  Prior to joining BMO Financial Group, Sajida spent 10 years in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP in the firm’s Restructuring, Bankruptcy, and Insolvency group, focusing her practice on representing creditors, institutional lenders and bank groups in all aspects of complex chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, out-of-court restructurings, loan workouts, asset sales, and other distressed situations in the commercial and corporate space.  Sajida received her JD from Northwestern University School of Law in 2002 and BA from Northwestern University in 1999.

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.

Aileen Bhandari, General Director

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.

Sheetal Parikh, IAC Clinic Co-Director

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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.