Board of Directors

SABA-SC Officers and Board of Directors, 2022-2023

Julie Ferguson Patel

Julie Ferguson Patel, Co-President

Julie Ferguson Patel is an Associate Counsel of Business & Legal Affairs at NBCUniversal Media in the filmed entertainment group, where she focuses on licensing film and TV content and advising on promotional, marketing, and publicity initiatives. Julie graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in Public Health Policy, received her J.D. from Chapman University School of Law, and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. at the University of Southern California. She has been a member of the SABA-SC board since 2019, previously serving as its Community Engagement Director and Co-President Elect. In her spare time, Julie enjoys traveling, cooking, and watching the latest movies.

Shafiqa Kureshi

Shafiqa Kureshi, Co-President

Shafiqa Kureshi is an is a Senior 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.

Shilpa Anand

Shilpa Anand, Co-President Elect

Shilpa Anand is a trial attorney at Castelblanco Law Group, in Studio City, California, where she champions tenants’ rights, through litigation focused on slum-housing and habitability cases. Ms. Anand received her J.D at Southwestern Law School, and completed her undergraduate education at the University of California San Diego, double-majoring in Psychology and International Studies. During her free time, she loves hiking, cooking, going for walks, and traveling.

Avni Mehta

Avni Mehta, Co-President Elect

Avni P. Mehta is a Senior Managing Associate at Sidley Austin LLP’s office in Century City, where she focuses her practice on global corporate and private equity transaction matters, representing privately held corporate entities and funds in domestic and cross-border transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, other business combinations, equity investments, corporate restructurings, and general corporate matters.  She earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.S. in Foreign Service with a focus on International Politics – Security Studies and Asian Studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Avni enjoys singing, cooking and traveling in her free time.

Shama Mehta

Shama Mehta, Secretary

Shama Modi Mehta is currently taking a few years off of her legal practice to be at home with her son.  Prior to this, she was an attorney with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Department of Homeland Security), where she maintained a complex and diverse caseload.  Prior to that, Shama was counsel at Travelers Insurance Companies, where she primarily focused on insurance defense litigation.

Shama received her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in 2009 and went on to receive her J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2012. While in law school, Shama served as a Senior Editor for the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal. She also served as the Chief Operating Officer for the North American South Asian Law Students Association (NSALSA).

Shuchi Shaw

Shuchee Shah, Treasurer

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.

Kiren Ahuja

Kiren Ahuja, Events (Los Angeles)

Kiren Ahuja is Principal Counsel at Hulu, where she oversees Hulu’s Marketing Legal organization and its support for various marketing initiatives, including 360 brand and content marketing campaigns, co-branded partnerships, product marketing, experiential events, content development, influencer engagement, contests/sweepstakes and promotional offers.

Darshan Patel

Darshan Patel, Events (Los Angeles)

Darshan Patel is a litigation and antitrust associate in the Los Angeles office of Crowell & Moring.  He received his JD from Loyola Law School, where he has also worked as an Adjunct Professor and Writing Specialist. During law school, Darshan was actively involved in the South Asian Law Students Association and served on the SABA-SC Board as the Law Student Representative. Prior to law school, he graduated with honors from UC San Diego with a degree in Political Science/Public Law.  His hobbies include testing new restaurants, hiking, and travelling.

Rajesh “Ray” Mandlekar, Events (Orange County)

Rajesh “Ray” Mandlekar represents clients in civil litigation matters concerning startups, investment, business and employment disputes.  He has represented individuals and institutions in high-profile cases across the country, including those concerning Enron, Lehman Brothers, Lloyd’s of London and AT&T.  He also represented, along with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, the Stanford student who came up with the idea of ephemeral messaging in his partnership dispute with the other co-founders of Snap, Inc.  Mr. Mandlekar is a Chicago native who lives in Newport Beach, California.

Devika Tandon

Devika Tandon, Mentorship Events & Program

Devika Tandon is staff attorney at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, representing unaccompanied minors in both state and immigration court. Prior to joining the non profit space, Devika spent the last nine years working in the tech startup space here in Los Angeles. From fin-tech, drone-tech, and the world of e-commerce, Devika built out legal functions as in-house counsel working cross-functionally to support innovation. She received her J.D. from the University of Sydney and bachelors degree in Political Science and French from University of Toronto (St.George). Devika is barred in New York, a Registered Legal Aid Attorney in California and a certified domestic violence counselor. Her hobbies include drawing, traveling and at the moment, learning Spanish to better serve her clients.

Shigufa Saleheen

Shigufa Saleheen, Mentorship Events & Program

Shigufa Saleheen represents workers in class action lawsuits focusing on wage theft, gender and racial pay disparity, employee misclassification, and other employment issues. She graduated from LMU Loyola Law School in 2021, where she held leadership positions in various student organizations including the South Asian Law Students Association, Public Interest Law Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, Student Bar Association, and Loyola’s International and Comparative Law Review. Prior to law school, Shigufa graduated from UC Riverside with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Creative Writing.

Mehma Kaur

Mehma Kaur, Mentorship Events & Program

Mehma Kaur is a Pre-Bar Associate at Chugh, LLP with the Corporate and Litigation Team in Los Angeles office.  She advises clients on corporate incorporations, transactional, litigation, and family law matters.

Mehma earned her Master’s in Law from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law with a specialization in Business Law. Before moving to the United States, she worked as an Associate Attorney for Advocate Mr. Hrishikesh Baruah, for two years where she practiced in the fields of litigation/civil disputes. She obtained her Bachelor of Artsdegree at Delhi University, India and Bachelor of Law degree at Amity University, Amity Law School, Noida, India. 

Mehma is a licensed advocate in India and will be appearing for the California Bar Examination.

Marissa Roy

Marissa Roy, Community Engagement

Marissa Roy is a Staff Attorney at the Public Rights Project. Marissa’s previous experience includes lecturing at USC School of Law, working as an Associate at O’Melveny & Myers, and clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Pooja Patel

Pooja Patel, Publicity & Marketing

Pooja V. Patel is an Associate Attorney at Zaller Law Group, PC. Pooja is an employment attorney who represents employers in a wide range of labor and employment litigation and assists employers in navigating complex workplace issues such as sexual harassment training and responding to administrative investigations and complaints. Pooja is a California native and received her B.A. from California State University, Long Beach, and J.D. from Case Western Reserve, School of Law. Pooja has been an active member of the South Asian Bar Association since law school. During her free time, Pooja enjoys spending time with her family and dog, and traveling the world with her husband.

Marize Alphonso

Marize Alphonso, Publicity & Marketing

Marize Alphonso is in-house counsel for Apple Inc.’s original content team, and previously worked at boutique entertainment law firms providing legal services for talent and 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 was a past-president of SABA-SoCal; she’s currently on the board of the Professional Entertainment Female Attorneys non-profit org and a co-chair of the organizing committee for the annual APA Holiday Toy Drive. For fun, Marize 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.

Paul Chander

Paul Chander, Judicial Evaluations

Paul Chander is a senior associate at Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles. He is trial and appellate litigator whose practice focuses on complex commercial litigation. He also maintains an active pro bono practice focused on constitutional law. 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 to promote community economic development. Paul earned his B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Sara Haji

Sara Haji, Judicial Evaluations

Sara Haji is the Legal Director of the Social Justice Legal Foundation (SJLF), an impact litigation firm that brings innovative, precedent-setting cases and trains legal fellows from the nation’s top law schools. She joined SJLF after several years litigating complex business cases to trial as a Counsel at Hueston Hennigan LLP. Sara clerked in the Eastern District of New York, at the Ninth Circuit, and at the California Supreme Court. She earned her B.A. in Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin and her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law. This is her third year serving as SABA-SC’s Judicial Evaluations Co-Chair. Sara spends her free time making too-lavish meals and optimizing everything.

Janani Rana

Janna Rana, Judicial Evaluations, OC/IE

Janani Rana is a Certified Family Law Specialist and experienced trial lawyer at Minyard Morris, a family law firm in Newport Beach. She handles complex family law issues and high net worth matters. She limits her practice to Orange County. Janani earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law and her Bachelor of Science in Political Theory with a Minor in South Asian Studies from the University of California, San Diego. She is a three-time graduate of the Kolodny Family Law Trial Institute held at the South Texas College of Law and the Trial Skills Institute of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. She is a Past President of SABA-SC (2019-2020) and a SABA-SC Steering Committee member. Janani is excited to be back on the Board this term as the Judicial Endorsement Chair for Orange County and the Inland Empire. She serves as Co-Chair of the Orange County Chapter of the USC Gould Alumni Association and serves on the Associate Board of Project Youth OCBF. She is a member of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, the Orange County Bar Association (Family Law Section and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee), the Academy of Certified Financial Litigators (Founding Member), the Orange County Family Law Banyard Inn of Court, Orange County Women Lawyers Association (Gala Committee), Orange County Asian American Bar Association, and National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. In her spare time, Janani advocates for epilepsy funding and research (specifically, infantile spasms), and enjoys traveling with her husband and two children.

Judge Mittal

Judge Mittal, Judicial Evaluations, OC/IE

Judge Mittal is a state court judge in Orange County, California, where he presides over child welfare matters.  Prior to taking the bench, Judge Mittal was a federal prosecutor in Santa Ana and Los Angeles, California for over 10 years.  From 2019 to 2021, he was a Deputy Chief supervising Assistant United States Attorneys, in addition to handling his own criminal cases.  Judge Mittal started his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Amul Thapar (when Judge Thapar was assigned to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky) and an Associate with Quinn Emanuel LLP working primarily on patent and trade secret litigation.

Judge Mittal is currently on SABA of Southern California’s (“SABASC”) Steering Committee.  As a lawyer, Judge Mittal served as SABA-SC’s Judicial Evaluations Co-Chair and its Public Interest Foundation’s Treasurer.  In 2021, SABANA awarded Judge Mittal its Rising Star Award, and NAPABA awarded Judge Mittal its Best Under 40 Award.