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 a Principal at Bird Marella, P.C. His practice focuses on the litigation and arbitration of complex business disputes, including commercial fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices, and class action matters. Gopi has successfully tried, mediated, and settled numerous cases. Gopi has represented companies and individuals across a wide variety of industries, including apparel, consumer products, multi-level marketing, pharmaceutical, real estate, and technology. Gopi has particular experience defending companies and individuals in quasi-criminal actions, including those brought under the federal civil RICO statute. Gopi is a graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School.
Marize Alphonso, Co-President Elect
Marize Alphonso is currently in-house counsel for Apple Inc.’s original content, and previously worked at boutique entertainment law firms providing legal services for many TV shows and 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, book clubs, swing dancing, and pub trivia.
Rohit Nath, Co-President Elect
Rohit Nath is an associate at Susman Godfrey LLP, where he represents plaintiffs and defendants in high-stakes cases across the country. Rohit’s experience spans a broad range of subject matters, including life insurance, music and publishing royalties, commercial real estate, intellectual property, and qui tam litigation. Before joining Susman Godfrey, Rohit worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Shafiqa Kureshi, Secretary
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.
Pooja Patel, Treasurer
Pooja Virendra Patel is an associate in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Labor & Employment practice group. She represents private and public employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits that allege claims for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract and wage and hour violations, among other employment claims. She also provides advice and counsel to private and public employers on a variety of employment matters. Pooja obtained her B.A. in International Studies with Minors in International Economics and French from California State University, Long Beach, and her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, School of Law. During her spare time, Pooja enjoys traveling and taking her dog on hikes.
Shuchi Parikh, Membership/Publicity Director
Shuchi Parikh is a health care attorney at Polsinelli LLP. She draws upon her prior experience working in-house and in private practice to advise health care providers and other entities on a range of transactional and regulatory matters. Prior to joining Polsinelli, Shuchi served as regulatory counsel at an early-stage startup in Santa Monica. Before that, she worked at leading law firms in Washington, DC. Shuchi has been involved with SABA for more than ten years. She previously served as co-chair of the Health Law Sections for SABA North America and SABA-DC. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and classical dance.
Labdhi Sheth, Membership/Publicity Director
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.
Kazim Naqvi, Membership/Publicity Director
Kazim Naqvi is an associate in the Intellectual Property and Litigation Practice Groups in Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s Century City office. He is also a member of the firm’s Trade Secrets Team.
Kazim prides himself in doing whatever it takes to achieve his clients’ business goals in an efficient manner.
Kazim’s practice focuses on a variety of commercial litigation and class action matters, including intellectual property, breach of contract, business tort, real estate, and entertainment issues. Kazim represents clients in a variety of industries, including the entertainment, aerospace, automotive, energy, retail, financial, medical technology, food and beverage, and travel industries, among others. He has particular experience in litigating trade secret issues under state and federal trade secret laws, as well as counseling clients on how to protect their sensitive and proprietary information and technology.
Kazim has experience handling several stages of litigation, including drafting and responding to pleadings and dispositive motions, taking depositions, appearing in court to argue substantive motions, and drafting and negotiating settlement agreements. He has experience representing Fortune 50 Companies, emerging growth companies, non-profit companies, small companies and individuals in state and federal courts, the court of appeals, as well as in alternative dispute resolution through mediations and arbitrations.
Prior to joining the firm, Kazim was an associate at another AmLaw 100 firm. Kazim graduated from Loyola Law School, where he was the President of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, and an Editor of the International and Comparative Law Review.
Dhruv Sharma, Mentorship Reception 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.
Paul Chander, Mentorship Reception Chair
Paul Chander is a litigation associate at Squire Patton Boggs in Los Angeles. His practice focuses on commercial and business disputes, including breach of contract, unfair competition, and consumer protection laws. Prior to joining Squire Patton Boggs, Paul clerked for Judges David Sotelo, Dennis Landin and Craig Karlan at the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. Before clerking, Paul was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at a non-profit in Detroit, Michigan, where he counseled local businesses and entrepreneurs. Paul earned his B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Neema Sahni, Events Director (LA Chair)
Neema Sahni is a commercial litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Los Angeles, where she represents a range of clients in the sports, media, and entertainment industries in high-stakes business disputes and counseling matters. Neema co-leads the firm’s Music Industry initiative, and maintains an active pro bono practice, including ongoing representation of the City of Los Angeles in sanctuary cities litigation. Prior to joining Covington in LA, Neema worked in-house at The Walt Disney Company in content distribution. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Neema received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. In her free time, Neema teaches a Bollywood dance fitness class, and enjoys having impromptu dance parties with her 3-year-old daughter and going on hikes and traveling with her family.
Kiren Ahuja, Events Director (LA 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).
Julie Ferguson, Events Director (OC 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.
Neil Desai, Community Engagement Director
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.
Amish Shah, Community Engagement Director
Amish Shah is a partner in the Litigation and Labor & Employment Groups, where he assists clients in a wide variety of business and employment matters. Mr. Shah’s experience includes the defense of single- and multi-plaintiff, representative and class action litigation pertaining to discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims before the federal and state courts and administrative agencies. Mr. Shah’s practice includes defending employers in wage-and-hour class actions and arbitrations. Mr. Shah also provides advice and counsel on various employment matters, including, hiring, disciplining, and terminating employees. Outside of the office, Amish enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, traveling, and playing all sports, including basketball, football, soccer and tennis. He also intently follows and enjoys discussing Los Angeles sports teams, and is an avid fan of UCLA athletics.
Shuchee Shah, Mentorship Program 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.
Dhara Waghela , Mentorship Program Chair
Dhara Waghela is a corporate associate in the Century City office of Sheppard Mullin, and is part of the firm’s healthcare team. She received her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and JD from the UCLA School of Law, where she also served as President of the South Asian Law Student Association. 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.
Sara Haji, Judicial Evaluations Director
Sara Haji is an associate at Hueston Hennigan LLP, where she focuses her practice on complex business litigation and intellectual property disputes. Prior to joining Hueston Hennigan, Sara completed clerkships in the Eastern District of New York, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court. She began her practice as a litigation associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York. Sara is a graduate of the Plan II Honors program at The University of Texas at Austin and UC Berkeley Law School, where she was active in consumer protection, privacy, and anti-discrimination law and research. She enjoys design, long-form journalism, and the San Antonio Spurs.
Taiyyeba Skomra, Judicial Evaluations Director
Taiyyeba Safri Skomra is a partner at Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP, where she focuses on investor/entrepreneur immigration, family-based immigration, litigation, and the analysis of the immigration consequences of criminal activity. She is a certified specialist in immigration and nationality law through the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Taiyyeba is admitted to practice by the States of California, Illinois, and Washington, as well as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Ninth Circuits. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College, magna cum laude, and from the University of Washington School of Law.
Nitya Bhardwaj, Law Student Director
Nitya Bhardwaj is a second-year J.D. Candidate at Loyola Law School. Currently, she is the President for the South Asian Student Law Association, and Patent Chair for Loyola’s Intellectual Property and Cybersecurity 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 Keesal Young & Logan in Long Beach.
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.