SABA-SC Officers and Board of Directors, 2020-2021
Vandana Kapur, Co-President
Vandana Kapur practices employment law at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. She has counseled and defended organizations of various sizes in the healthcare, arts, film and entertainment, fitness, banking, manufacturing, technology, produce, and restaurant industries, among others, against a variety of employment law claims. Vandana has extensive experience handling single plaintiff, representative action, and class action claims in both state and federal court. She has unique expertise in effectively handling challenging and sensitive facts and situations, and enjoys partnering with clients to resolve these issues. Vandana has served on the boards of SABA-SC and SABA-PIF for a number of years, and actively participates in diversity initiatives both inside and outside of her firm. In her spare time, Vandana likes to do yoga, travel, and read.
Gopi K. Panchapakesan, Co-President
Gopi K. Panchapakesan is an associate at Bird Marella, P.C. His practice focuses on the litigation of complex business disputes. Gopi has extensive experience trying, mediating, and settling cases. Gopi has represented companies and individuals across a wide variety of industries, including retail, healthcare, real estate, biomedical, software, fashion, and consumer products. Gopi has particular experience defending companies and individuals in quasi-criminal actions, including those brought under the federal civil RICO statute. Prior to joining Bird Marella, Gopi was an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. Gopi is a graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School.
Pooja Patel, Treasurer
Pooja Patel is a labor and employment associate at Rupal Law. Pooja advises and represents employers and employees in employment-related matters. After obtaining her B.A. in International Studies with Minors in International Economics and French from California State University, Long Beach, Pooja moved to Cleveland, Ohio where she obtained her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, School of Law. Pooja practiced as a labor and employment attorney at a regional law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for almost two years before moving back to Southern California. Pooja remains involved in various legal and non-legal organizations such as the South Asian Network, Legal Aid Society of Orange County, and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. During her spare time, Pooja enjoys traveling and taking her dog on hikes.
Puneet Toor, Secretary
Puneet Toor is the founder and principal at Toor Law, APC where she specializes in civil litigation in the areas of employment, catastrophic injury, product defect and consumer fraud litigation. Ms. Toor has gained valuable experience in both individual and class action lawsuits during her many years working at some of the most notable litigation firms in Southern California. Ms. Toor earned her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School where she served as the president of the Student Bar Association. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Women’s Studies from the University of California, Irvine. She currently serves as an executive board member of the Board of Governors for the Consumer Advocates of California (CAOC), and as the past chair for the Women’s Caucus of California. Her additional organizational memberships include the American Association for Justice, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, and Step-Up Women’s Network.
Shafiqa Kureshi, Orange County Director
Shafiqa Kureshi is an is an Associate at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Lowey’s Irvine office, where she focuses her practice on providing immigration solutions to high net worth individuals. Shafiqa has extensive experience with all employment-based visa categories, including investor visas (e.g., E-2 and EB-5), as well as family-based applications. Shafiqa has experience counseling clients from various industries, including tech start-ups, entertainment production companies and multinational companies, on all aspects of corporate immigration. She has prepared and filed nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions and responded to complex Requests for Evidence. Shafiqa speaks English, Hindi and Urdu.
Nandan Padmanabhan, Membership Director
Nandan Padmanabhan is an associate at DLA Piper LLP’s Century City office and a member of the Intellectual Property & Technology practice group. His practice primarily focuses on high-stakes intellectual property litigation matters involving electronics, software and wireless patents, and software trade secrets. He also advises clients regarding intellectual property protection and technology-related agreements. Prior to law school, Nandan was a project lead at JPMorgan Chase & Co. where he was responsible for software design and managing implementation teams. Nandan received his B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Nandan received his J.D. from the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles. In his free time, Nandan enjoys staying active and riding motorcycles.
Shuchee Shah, Events Director, Mentorship Reception Chair
Shuchee Shah is a healthcare transactional attorney in the Orange County office of Theodora Oringher. She focuses her practice on structuring collaborative and strategic ventures and represents clients in all phases of transactions across diverse industries, with a specific emphasis on the health care industry. She received her JD from the University of Southern California Gould School on Law. Throughout law school, Shuchee worked in the Mediation Clinic where she mediated over a hundred cases and was on the Executive Board of the Peer Mentor Program. In addition, she served as President of the South Asian Law Student Association and Vice President of the Public Interest Law Foundation. Furthermore, Shuchee was the Senior Production Editor of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice and had her note published the 75th edition of the journal. She currently sits on the board of the South Asian Bar Association. Shuchee earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration in 2011.
Roma Patel, Events Director, LA Co-Chair
Roma Patel is a healthcare associate with Buchalter in Los Angeles, her practice focuses on healthcare transactions and regulatory advice. She serves on the Joint LACBA-LACMA Committee on Biomedical Ethics, Los Angeles County Bar Association and President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession with the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Roma earned her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School, concentrating in Health Law and Bioethics. She also earned an M.P.H, focusing on Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 2015. While in attendance, she was on the editorial board for the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology and won 1st Place in the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Health Law Writing Competition. She was the recipient of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation CoDE Award and the Law-Medicine Center Health Law Grant for Public Service. In 2014, she co-founded a Medical-Legal Partnership at the University of Minnesota Medical School, which serves as a legal clinic for law students and provides legal and benefits assistance to the medically underserved. Ms. Patel received her B.A., from Carleton College, majoring in English Literature with an emphasis on Biochemistry.
Kiren Ahuja, Events Director, LA Co-Chair
Kiren Ahuja represents clients in the entertainment and digital media sector on a wide variety of transactional matters, including the negotiation and drafting of rights acquisition, development, production, and distribution agreements for motion picture and television projects, merchandising agreements, content and data licenses, confidentiality agreements, software licenses, hosted services agreements, application development agreements, master services agreements, and website privacy policies. Kiren routinely advises clients in the development of new media and digital advertising initiatives, such as media buys, branded content, and experiential advertising campaigns (including providing business and legal insights on compliance with relevant FTC guidance, contest and sweepstakes elements, and the negotiation of talent and advertising agency/client agreements).
Amrita Jolly-Sodhi, Events Director, OC Co-Chair
Amrita Jolly-Sodhi is an Associate at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Lowey’s Irvine office. She is a member of the firm’s Private Client Practice, which focuses on immigration solutions for high net worth foreign nationals and includes EB-5, E-2, L-1, EB1-A, EB1-C and National Interest Waiver matters, among others. Amrita also helps employers establish and execute effective immigration programs.
Dhruv Sharma, Events Director, OC Co-Chair
Dhruv Sharma is a Consumer Financial Services and Commercial litigator in McGlinchey Stafford, LLP’s Irvine office. He primarily represents banking and other financial institutions in state and federal litigation, including class actions, and also defends creditors’ rights in bankruptcy proceedings. He is the Treasurer of the Orange County Bar Association’s Banking and Lending Section. In his free time, Dhruv enjoys spending time with his kids, travelling, playing golf, mountain biking and scuba diving.
Marize Alphonso, Community Engagement Director, LA Co-Chair
Marize Alphonso is an entertainment transactional attorney at the law firm of Reder & Feig, LLP. She currently provides production legal services for scripted television shows, and has served as legal counsel for multiple independent movies. Marize graduated from UC Berkeley, with a double major in Rhetoric and English, and from UCLA School of Law, with a specialization in Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property. She sings with the LA Lawyers Philharmonic’s Legal Voices, volunteers with Reading to Kids, and enjoys cake decorating, swing dancing, and pub trivia
Neil Desai, Community Engagement Director, LA Co-Chair
Neil Desai is an associate in the Los Angeles office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where his practice focuses on intellectual property litigation, with an emphasis on engineering and technology-based patent litigation. Neil received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from USC, and his J.D. from UCLA. During law school, Neil was an executive articles editor for the Journal of Law and Technology. Prior to attending law school, Neil worked as an engineer on communication chips for satellite applications. During his free time, Neil enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking.
Labdhi Sheth, Community Engagement Director, Mentorship Program Co-Chair
Labdhi Sheth is a judicial clerk for the United States District Court, Central District of California. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. In law school, Labdhi served as the Chief Articles Editor of the Loyola Law Review, which will publish her article in the 52nd Volume of the journal. Furthermore, she served as the President of Loyola’s South Asian Law Student Association. Labdhi earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015.
Dhara Waghela, Community Engagement Director, Mentorship Program Co-Chair
Dhara Waghela is a JD/MBA candidate at UCLA, where she is actively involved in the Health Law Students Association, Entrepreneurship Association and Women’s Law Journal. Prior to law school, Dhara graduated with honors from UC Irvine with degrees in Public Health Science and Economics. Her hobbies include trying new foods, reading, and yoga.
Julie Ferguson, Community Engagement Director, OC Membership Chair
Julie Ferguson is a litigation associate at Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson & Haluck LLP in its Irvine office. She earned her J.D. from Chapman University and B.A. in Public Health Policy from the University of California, Irvine.
Sejal Patel, Community Engagement Director, OC Judicial Outreach Chair
Sejal S. Patel is an associate at La Follette Johnson Dehaas Fesler & Ames. Her practice focuses primarily on defense medical malpractice cases in the Southern California area. Ms. Patel received her J.D. from Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law as well as her B.A. in Political Science and B.A. in Public Health Policy from University of California, Irvine. At Chapman, Ms. Patel was president of the Health Law Society, the ABA Programs Director for the Student Body Association, and the co-chair for the ABA Law School Division: Middle Eastern, South & Southeast Asian Caucus. Ms. Patel also competed on both the Mock Trial and Alternate Dispute Resolution competition teams, such as the “Arbitration Competition” hosted in Omaha, Nebraska and “Representation in Mediation Competition” hosted in Denver, Colorado. Ms. Patel is a published legal writer for “The Gavel.” She also enjoys running charity races/events and dancing professionally, such as in the 2016 NFL Madden Promo Video.
Abinaya Prabakar, Community Engagement Director, OC APA Connections Chair
Abinaya Prabakar is an associate attorney at the Law Offices of Rosanna Cheung and currently practices Immigration Law. Abinaya was born in India and has lived in different countries throughout her life. She moved to the United States from Singapore in 2010 and lived in Nebraska before moving to Orange County. She obtained her J.D. from Chapman Law School. Throughout law school, Abinaya also worked in the Immigration Clinic, Family Protection Clinic, and the Mediation Clinic, where she represented clients in different matters. She competed in various Mock Trial and Negotiation competitions. She was also a founding member of Diversity Initiative and the Community Outreach Chair for the Asian Pacific American Bar Association at Chapman. She is currently a member of the Orange County Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. In fall of 2019, she will be attending the University of Southern California to pursue an LLM in Alternate Dispute Resolution. During her spare time, Abinaya enjoys traveling, martial arts, playing video games, binge-watching shows on Netflix, and learning languages. She speaks Tamil, Korean, and is currently attending classes to learn Spanish.
Madhu Pocha, Judicial Evaluations Director
Madhu Pocha is Counsel in O’Melveny’s Century City office and a member of the Business Trial and Litigation Department. He has worked with a broad range of clients, including companies and individuals in the fields of media, technology, sports, and entertainment. He has argued motions and appeals, taken and defended depositions, interviewed and examined witnesses, and managed complex electronic discovery. Before joining O’Melveny, Madhu worked as a consultant on projects for the U.S. government concerning the Internet, new media, and social networking.
Rohit Nath, Judicial Evaluations Director
Rohit Nath is an associate at Susman Godfrey, LLP, where he litigates high-stakes cases across the country. Rohit’s experience includes class actions against life insurance carriers, commercial property disputes, and patent litigation. Before joining Susman Godfrey, Rohit worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and clerked on the Ninth Circuit. Rohit joined SABA-SC’s board in 2018 as Events Co-Director. He has also been actively involved in SABA North America, and this year served as Co-Chair of the 2018 SABA North America Annual Conference in New York. His favorite SABA event is the annual banquet, because it is an opportunity for SABA members to come together with the members of other bar associations.
Nitya Bhardwaj, Law Student Director
Nitya Bhardwaj is a first-year J.D. Candidate at Loyola Law School. Currently, she is a 1L Representative for the Loyola’s Intellectual Property and Cybersecurity Law Association and for the South Asian Student Law Association. Prior to law school, she graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Neuroscience. This summer, she will be a litigation summer associate at Robins Kaplan LLP in Century City.
Dhruva Krishna, Law Student Director
Dhruva Krishna is J.D. candidate at UCLA. He is actively involved in their Intellectual Property Law Association (IPLA), South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA), and Entertainment Law Association (ELA) student groups. Prior to UCLA, Dhruva graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in Ethics, History, Public Policy and Professional Writing. He is an avid and active musician, and spent time before his career in law performing, recording, and managing within the entertainment industry.
Payal Sinha, Representative from SABA-SC Public Interest Foundation Board of Directors
Payal Sinha serves as the Managing Attorney of the Legal Advocacy Project at Peace Over Violence, where she represents hundreds of low income, undocumented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other violent crimes, in their immigration matters. She also maintains the pro bono project and on-campus sexual assault project. She currently serves as a President-Elect of the South Asian Bar Association-Public Interest Law Foundation Board and Board Secretary of the International Law Journal. Payal is also a current fellow of Women in Policy Institute and is working on two state bills: AB 865 on providing training for service providers who care for commercially sexually exploited children, and SB 493 to provide more structure and uniform processes to handle sexual harassment allegations at the higher education level.