Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra
Opening Night Reception, Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra, User of Reality Photography

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — The South Asian Bar association kicked off its 13th Annual convention at the Hilton Americas in Houston.

The opening night reception Thursday evening began with an address from the host city Mayor Sylvester Turner and featured an opening keynote address from Judge Ravi Sandill, the first South Asian-American District Court Judge in the state.

Friday’s lunch featured an address from Nandita Berry, former Texas Secretary of State and the only rocloerson of South Asian descent to hold such an office in any state.

The event serves as a primary tool for the nation’s South Asian lawyers to collaborate and discuss their craft. This is showcased in a series of panel discussions ranging from sports law, labor & employment, banking and business development, intellectual property and white collar defense. Experts sitting on the various panels include: Umar Hussain, Manager of Global Distribution Strategy for Disney and the ESPN Media Networks; Chandra Bhatnagar, Senior Attorney Advisor to Chair Jenny R. Yang of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Sandra Buja, Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Neel Chatterjee with SABANA President Anne Gwal; Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra, User of Reality Photography
Neel Chatterjee with SABANA President Anne Gwal; Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra, User of Reality Photography

SABANA has a long history of recognizing exceptional efforts within the legal community. This year’s Spotlight awardees will include Monika Kalra Varma – ‘2016 Public Interest Achievement Award’ for her work on human rights and social justice issues; Priya Harjani. ‘Corporate Counsel Achievement Award’ as the deputy General Counsel for Northwestern University. During Thursday night’s opening ceremonies, Neel Chatterjee accepted an award on behalf or Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for the 2016 Law Firm Achievement Award. Chatterjee is a partner in Orrick’s Silicon Valley office and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading IP litigators. Friday he participated in a Mock Exam regarding Patent Damages with Judge Vince Chabbria on the bench for an informative and witty exchange involving a mock exam determining the damages in a patent case.

Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra, User of Reality Photography
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner with SABA North American President Anne Gwal; Photo courtesy of Bhavin Misra, User of Reality Photography

The convention will continue through the weekend featuring panel discussions around Cybersecurity, Intellectual Property, Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in the Civil Justice System, risks in the healthcare organizations as well a focus on Congressional & Internal investigations implicating high-profile issues ranging from national security and corruption to government misconduct and corporate malfeasance.

The Saturday night gala will feature a keynote address from Rais Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi American who works as a technology professional in Dallas. Bhuiyan is best remembered for being the victim of a vicious hate crime shortly after the September 11 attacks, when Mark Anthony Stroman attempted to shoot and kill him because he resembled an Arab. Bhuiyan was saved from brain damage, but lost sight in one of his eyes.

Since the attack, Bhuiyan has begun a campaign to appeal the execution of his attacker, telling MSNBC during an interview, “I’m trying to do my best not to allow the loss of another human life.

SABA 2017I’ll knock on every door possible.” He said, “In Islam it says that saving one human life is the same as saving the entire mankind. Since I forgave him, all those principles encouraged me to go even further, and stop his execution and save another human life.” Bhuiyan named the movement to save Mark Stroman World Without Hate and partnered with Amnesty International.  The convention official wraps up Sunday with the executive board meetings. Washington D.C. will play host for the convention next year in July 2017 at the Marriott Marquis.

Diya TV is an official media sponsor of this year’s event.