SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — At a time when demographics within the U.S. are changing rapidly, those numbers are still hardly reflective within the legal community. For that primary reason, the Santa Clara University School of Law holds its annual diversity gala.

Law school dean Lisa Kloppenberg talked about how embracing diversity in the legal world is important to securing a meritocracy for not just the profession, but for the entire country.

“You’re not going to have a meritocracy in America unless it’s diverse,” she said. “Particularly here, in the Valley, where you have lawyers and judges who really shape the law for the world, it’s so important to have a mix.”

Additionally, the gala celebrates those in the legal community making their mark in social justice and human rights. This year, federal judge Paul Grewal was honored at the ceremony. Madhuri Nemali, co-president of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, praised Grewal for his efforts as a mentor and a leader for all in the community.

Judge Paul Grewal in his office in the federal courthouse in downtown San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Grewal, a San Jose federal magistrate judge, rang in the New Year in an unusual way for anyone in the club of those who wear black robes: he went public with his own Twitter account, "@iampaulgrewal." While most state and federal judges still shy away from social media, Grewal took the bold step, joining a small group of judges around the country who have decided it's time to jump into the Twitterverse. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)
Judge Paul Grewal in his office in the federal courthouse in downtown San Jose, Calif.

“Judge Grewal’s such an incredible mentor and figure in the community, the fact that he dedicates this amount of time to giving back shows what kind of person he is.”

Judge Grewal has garnered the reputation of being a trailblazer in the legal community, who possesses real-world expertise. He even maintains a public Twitter account, independently, where he engages with the public on a daily basis. The former intellectual property litigator turned judge spoke about what it meant to receive such an honor.

“To be recognized for whatever contributions I made to encouraging people from different communities and different parts of our society to get involved in the law, to think about law school and to think about assuming positions of leadership, it means a lot to me,” Grewal said.

Grewal has experienced first-hand what it’s like to be an outsider in the profession. He described how few South Asians worked as lawyers when he graduated law school two decades ago.

“I started out in the law 20 years ago, and there weren’t very many of us,” he said. “There were a handful of south Asian and Indian-Americans who were interested in the law, but there weren’t very many role models.”

Now it seems, the trends have turned. Most recently, Sri Srinivasan, a United States Circuit Court Judge, was considered to be on president Obama’s shortlist for Supreme Court nominees. Additionally, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is poised to become the first Indian-American ever elected to the U.S. Senate.