With the forming of the South Asian Bar Association of North America in 2003, South Asian lawyers and law students were provided with a forum to connect with their colleagues throughout North America and to discuss their experiences and challenges in pursuing a career in the legal profession. Shortly after the formation of the South Asian Bar Association of North America, the South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia was formed as the first Canadian chapter.  Since 2005, SABABC has had over 350 members and 6 Presidents serving during the following period:

 

2016 Jindy Bhalla Edwards Kenny & Bray LLP
2015 Jindy Bhalla Edwards Kenny & Bray LLP
2014 Amandeep Sandhu McMillan LLP
2013 Amandeep Sandhu McMillan LLP
2012 Anita Atwal Alexander Holburn LLP
2011 Anita Atwal Alexander Holburn LLP
2010 Jaia Rai Law Society of BC
2009 Jaia Rai Law Society of BC
2008 Jeevyn Dhaliwal Larlee Rosenberg LLP
2007 Jeevyn Dhaliwal Larlee Rosenberg LLP
2006 Mandeep Dhaliwal Lawson Lundell LLP
2005 Mandeep Dhaliwal Lawson Lundell LLP

 

What the SABABC experience has meant to some of our Past Presidents

 

Jeevyn Dhaliwal:

“I first became involved with the North American South Asian Bar Association (“NASABA”) shortly after its formation in October, 2003. I was excited to see that SABABC formed a local chapter in 2005 and, following my first involvement on the executive, I took on the role of President for the 2007-2008 term. I was encouraged by the fact that there was a movement afoot to support and celebrate lawyers of South Asian descent as we appeared to be relatively few in number at that time. However, we quickly became, arguably, the largest minority bar association in Canada engaging in community outreach activities including hosting pro bono clinics throughout the lower mainland, supporting scholarships and bursaries for law students, organizing networking events and planning and hosting sold out galas to raise funds for our initiatives. In our early days, we were strongly supported by pillars of our community, including the then current Attorney General, Wallace T. Oppal, Q.C., many members of the judiciary and senior lawyers from the legal community. This recognition and support was instrumental in providing us with the encouragement we needed and in validating the importance of our work. I am heartened by the fact that more than a decade later, SABABC continues its evolution and is a thriving and supportive organization, only limited by the imagination of its members. SABABC has allowed me to contribute to my profession and community and to make many good friends who are united in a common purpose to make things better for the future and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

Amandeep Sandhu:

“Being able to practice law in this Province is a privilege, so I feel a responsibility to contribute to the community at large. I see SABABC as a great way to do this, as our efforts can be focused both on supporting South Asians entering the legal field, as well as the South Asian community at large. I am proud of my past service as SABABC’s President, and I am pleased to support SABABC as it grows and evolves. The invaluable connections and opportunities to be gained through SABABC are further supplemented by the opportunity to give back to a community which needs the support of those with the skills to make a difference. I encourage all South Asians entering the legal profession to make involvement in SABABC an integral component of their practice. SABABC gives young lawyers the opportunity to learn from lawyers who have traversed the ins-and- outs of big firm, solo and in-house practice, and it provides a platform to develop skills while making community contributions.”

Jaia Rai:

“It was 2004 and I was sitting at my desk in my Gastown office when out of the blue a gentleman called me from California and asked if I was South Asian. He took me by surprise because it was not a usual question for me to be asked. He introduced himself as Navneet Chugh, then President of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), and invited me to attend a meeting in Surrey to discuss the formation of a British Columbia Chapter. I admit that I hesitated as up until that point my association with other South Asian professionals was quite limited and I was not sure how I could contribute or if anyone really wanted my contribution. I was intrigued enough, however, and attended the meeting. Shortly thereafter I found myself working with a group of talented South Asian lawyers to establish the BC Chapter. From 2005 until 2009, I served as Vice-President Events and Special Events and from 2009-2010 I served as President. It was an honour and privilege to be involved in the early years of the Chapter and help shape its mission and goals. While I enjoyed and embraced the mentoring and leadership opportunities, I particularly enjoyed and am proud of my work as it relates to two initiatives. The first is the Fall Conference. I had the privilege of planning the inaugural Fall Conference, held in Surrey. The Fall Conference is an extremely important event put on by the Chapter for its members as it provides invaluable professional development at low cost and networking opportunities. As a result of my role at the Law Society of BC, I have a much greater insight into the importance of providing our members opportunities for continuing education and means by which to address issues faced by lawyers, particularly new lawyers and those in solo practices, such as practice isolation. I am very pleased that the Fall Conference continues to achieve great success. The second initiative is the 2009 NASABA Annual Convention. The decision to put a bid in for hosting the Convention and winning the bid was a turning point in the BC Chapter’s history. I was proud to work alongside Jindy Bhalla to put together a successful and fun Convention, one that allowed us to showcase to our colleagues south of the border the important contributions of BC and other Canadian lawyers.”