Board of Directors

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

Pooja Patel

Pooja Patel, Co-President

Pooja V. Patel is an attorney at Lavi & Ebrahimian, LLP. Ms. Patel represents employees in labor and employment matters including complex wage and hour class actions, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. 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 hiking with her dog, Aspen, traveling, and listening to crime podcasts.

Taiyyeba Skorma

Taiyyeba Skomra, Co-President

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.

Julie Ferguson

Julie Ferguson Patel, Co-President Elect

Julie Ferguson Patel is an associate attorney at The Upper Deck Company, where she focuses on sports and entertainment licensing for product development and advises on marketing initiatives. Prior to joining Upper Deck, Julie represented Fortune 500 builders, developers and general contractors in complex civil litigation defense matters as an associate at Koeller, Nebeker Carlson & Halluck LLP. She received her J.D. from Chapman University School of Law and bachelor’s degree in Public Health Policy from UC Irvine.

Shafiqa Kureshi

Shafiqa Kureshi, Co-President Elect

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.

Dhara Waghela

Dhara Waghela Sheth, Secretary

Dhara Waghela Sheth 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.

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.

Darshan Patel

Darshan Patel, Events (Los Angeles)

Darshan Patel is a graduate from Loyola Law School, who is studying for the bar. This fall Darshan will begin as an associate at Crowell & Moring in Los Angeles. During law school, Darshan served as the Chief Production Editor of Loyola’s International and Comparative Law Review and served on the Board of Loyola’s South Asian Law Student Association. Darshan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science/Public Law with honors from the University of California, San Diego in 2019. His hobbies include taking care of his plants, coaching mock trial, and spending time at the beach.

Kiren Ahuja

Kiren Ahuja, Events (Los Angeles)

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).

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.

Avni Mehta

Avni Mehta, Mentorship Events & Program

Avni P. Mehta is a managing associate in Sidley’s office in Century City and is a member of the firm’s Private Equity practice. Her practice focuses on global corporate and private equity transaction matters representing privately held corporate entities and funds in domestic and cross-border transactions, including merges and acquisitions, joint ventures, other business combinations, equity investments, corporate restructurings, and general corporate matters.

Avni earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and the business editor of the Journal of Gender and Law. She was a law clerk extern for the honorable Roslynn R. Mauskopf of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York. She received her B.S. in Foreign Service with a focus on International Politics – Security Studies and a minor in Asian Studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Avni is also an alumna of the New York City Bar Association’s Associate Leadership Institute.

Shuchi Parikh

Shuchi Parikh, Mentorship Events & Program

Shuchi Parikh has nearly a decade of experience practicing as a healthcare lawyer both in-house and in private practice. She currently works at Lyra Health, a behavioral health startup, in the role of Senior Regulatory Counsel. Prior to this, she worked in Polsinelli LLP’s nationally ranked healthcare practice. She previously served on the SABA-SC board from 2020-2021. She lives in Redondo Beach with her family and enjoys dining out, hiking, and planning her next trip.

Shilpa Anand

Shilpa Anand, Mentorship Events & Program

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.

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.

Deshani Ellis

Deshani Ellis, Publicity & Membership

Deshani Ellis is an associate in Quinn Emanuel’s Los Angeles office. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, including in areas of intellectual property and antitrust matters. Prior to that, Deshani worked at Jones Day, where she represented clients in a range of complex litigation matters, including multidistrict litigation. Deshani worked as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Halil Suleyman Ozerden in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and she served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Mark J. Dinsmore in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Deshani received her J.D. with honors from the University of California, Irvine School of Law. While she was in law school, she served as an editor of the UC Irvine Law Review and served as a legal extern for the Office of Chief Legal Counsel, Internal Revenue Service. While in law school, she also participated in the Community and Economic Development Clinic and the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic. Prior to attending law school, Deshani served as a Teach for America corps member in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Neema Sahni

Neema Sahni, Judicial Evaluations

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.

Paul Chander

Paul Chander, Judicial Evaluations

Paul Chander is a litigation associate at Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles. His practice focuses on securities litigation, class actions, and appeals. 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.

Suneeta Israni

Suneeta Israni, Judicial Evaluations

Suneeta Israni is a criminal prosecutor for the city of Los Angeles. She specializes in family violence cases (stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, etc.). She currently also serves as a board member for McBride High School’s Criminal Justice and Investigations Pathway. Suneeta graduated from Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law in 2018. During law school, she was a member of the Chapman Law Review, the Moot Court and Alternative Dispute Resolution boards and the president of her Mock Trial team. Before law school, Suneeta taught for two years in a low-income community of Los Angeles as a Teach for America corps member and obtained her Masters in Education Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Suneeta received her undergraduate degrees in Public Policy and Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. While at Cal, she served as Chief Justice representing the interests of over 36,000 students. Suneeta is passionate about her work as a prosecutor, improving education at large, and helping the broader South Asian community.

Girija Gaur

Girija Gaur, Law Student Rep

Girija Gaur is a Summer Associate at O’Melveny & Myers, and a rising 3L at UCI Law with a passion for patent law. She earned her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and draws upon her extensive technical experience to assist high-tech ventures, start-ups, and innovators secure their patent rights. She has served as the Vice President of the Intellectual Property Law Student Association, Co-Chair of the Middle Eastern South Asian Law Student Association, and Vice President of It Takes a Village, a campus organization that advocates for law student parents. Girija remains active in her areas of technical interest. She has served as the Chair of the Photonic Detection Technical Group, is currently serving as the Chair of the Nano-Bio Optics Technical Group of Optica, and has been a peer reviewer for high-impact scientific articles.

Trishta

Trishta Dordi, Law Student Rep

Trishta Dordi is a rising 3L at LMU Loyola Law School,  pursuing her Juris Doctorate degree.

She is currently a Summer Associate Clerk at Hadsell, Stormer, Renick & Dai, a civil rights firm in Los Angeles. In that capacity, Trishta conducts legal research/strategy to assist in high-profile police misconduct and employee discrimination cases.

The Foundation for Advocacy and Inclusion Resources (FAIR) awarded Trishta with a Summer 2022 Employee Justice Fellowship. She is one of 12 students in the State of California selected for this honor.

She has previously worked as an Immigration Law Clerk at the Public Law Center where she administrated and executed the Afghanistan humanitarian parole project to get Afghan individuals urgent parole due to Taliban death threats. She also wrote declarations for DACA applicants, victims of trafficking, and victims of violence.

At Loyola, she is President of Criminal Law Society and the Founder / President of Homeless Rights Advocacy Society.