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Member Spotlights

Click the headings below to read the spotlights of SABA GB's members.


  • Saturday, August 29, 2020 11:36 PM | Zaheer Samee (Administrator)

    Second in a series of spotlights of past SABA GB presidents

    Saraa Basaria graduated from the University of Florida before earning her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She practiced criminal defense with the Committee for Public Counsel Services for three and a half years. She then joined the Boston office of Gordon & Rees, where her practice focused on general and construction-related litigation.

    Since 2017, Saraa has been an associate at Todd & Weld LLP in Boston where she concentrates on employment counseling and litigation, commercial litigation, and criminal defense.

    • You’re originally from Florida? What made you move to Boston and decide to stay?

    I decided to move to Boston in 2009 to attend Northeastern University School of Law. I was drawn to NUSL because of their co-op program and focus in public interest. While at NUSL, I had the opportunity to intern at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. I stayed in Boston because I built a strong professional and personal network here.

    • Your career path crosses the criminal/civil divide in the legal profession, which is unusual. How did you make that transition, and do you have any advice to other lawyers thinking of making a similar move?

    The key to any career transition is having a strong network. When I decided to move into private practice, I reached out to my network to learn from their experiences and get their advice.

    For other lawyers looking to make a similar transition, I would suggest figuring out if you have anyone in your network who has made a similar change and asking them for 15-30 minutes of their time. In my experience, people are happy to help by offering their advice and experiences.

    • You’ve been quite active in bar associations. You were SABAGB’s president in 2016-17. You were part of the inaugural class of the Massachusetts Bar Association leadership academy. Currently you are on the Executive Committee of the SABA Foundation and the MBA Young Lawyers Division, in addition to being a member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of Women’s Bar Association. In what way has your involvement in SABA GB and other bar organizations benefited you?

    My involvement in bar associations has been invaluable. Through bar associations like SABA GB, I have expanded my network and fostered deep professional and personal connections in the Massachusetts legal community. This has led to professional opportunities, mentorship and, in many cases, wonderful friendships.

    Most importantly, bar associations afford the opportunity to serve and uplift the community. I am grateful for that opportunity.

    • Are there any experiences in your career that were particularly important or that offer lessons for newer lawyers?

    The first few months as a new lawyer can be overwhelming in many ways. As new lawyers cope with the transition from law school to the practice of law, and perhaps begin to second-guess themselves, it is important to be mindful about taking moments to stop and reflect on their achievements. If a new lawyer is worrying whether they will succeed as a lawyer, it means they have already conquered college, law school, and the bar exam. I encourage new lawyers to remember that and trust in their own abilities. They will undoubtedly surprise themselves.

    It is also important to remember to not be afraid to ask a question. When I first began practicing law, I was timid about asking questions. However, I quickly learned that I often regret not asking a question, but rarely regret asking a question, regardless of the answer.

    • Any hobbies, extracurricular activities, pastimes you enjoy when you were not working?

    I love cooking – it is such a fun and relaxing creative outlet. I also enjoy reading and spending as much time outside as possible while it is still warm.

    • Any fun or curious fact about you that might surprise people?

    I recently turned my cooking hobby into a cooking blog on Instagram called Buttermilk and Boards!

  • Friday, August 14, 2020 1:17 PM | Zaheer Samee (Administrator)

    Lalitha R. Gunturi grew up in Dallas, Texas and earned her undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her law degree from  Boston University School of Law in 2005. From 2005 to 2009, she was an associate at Goodwin Procter LLP. Currently, she is Director, Legal Counsel at RSA Security.

    In June, she was a recipient of the SABA North America Rising Star Award. The award recognizes a lawyer who is under 40 years old or has been practicing for less than 10 years and who exemplifies a broad range of high achievement in his or her practice area, as well as innovation, leadership, legal and community service and commitment to diversity.

    Lalitha and her husband live in Bedford, Massachusetts with their two young boys, Nikhil (8) and Nishanth (5).

    • Most people from warmer climes who come to school in Boston return home after graduating. What made you stay?

    When I was deciding on where to go for law school, my final two choices were staying at the University of Texas at Austin, where I did my undergrad, or come to Boston University. I had never even been to Boston before, but after a quick visit, I decided on BU, because I wanted to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone for a few years. I never thought I would end up staying in Boston after graduation, let alone 18 years and counting! It was a bit of a shock initially to move so far away from home and leave my family and friends. Adjusting to the weather was definitely a challenge. I had no clue how to tie a scarf, or how to buy some basic necessities, like a serious pair of boots and a winter coat. It was a steep learning curve. I had a lot of fun as a summer associate in Boston, and the city grew on me. When I got an offer from Goodwin after graduating, and I met my now-husband around the same time, my decision was made to stay.

    • You earned your undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from University of Texas, Austin. What made you turn to the law?

    My paternal grandfather in India was a lawyer. My father earned an LLB in India but never practiced. So the practice of law ran in my family. Parents will sometimes tell kids who argue a lot  they should or could be a lawyer when they grow up. Well, I used to argue a fair amount as a kid so I heard that advice often growing up. Heading to college, I actually wanted to be a journalist. I had even  served as the managing editor for my high school newspaper.   As you can imagine, it wasn’t so well-received by my parents.  So as a compromise, I studied electrical engineering, because I was very interested in technology as well. As it turned out, it’s been really a huge help to my legal career. The fact that I have an engineering degree allowed me to go into IP when I first graduated from law school. Even as an in-house counsel it helps me understand the technical side of things. Often I have found it gives me instant credibility when speaking with engineers and technically- minded people at my company.

    • You have had a pretty varied career so far with positions at a law firm and in-house at several different companies. What has driven you?

    My first job was as an IP associate at Goodwin, where I represented global tech and life science companies mainly on patent and trademark prosecution as well as general licensing and other IP matters. I worked there for three-and-a-half years.

    My first in-house positions were at software or hi-tech companies where I focused mostly on IP matters and on overseeing the company’s patent and trademark portfolios as well as licensing matters.

    After a few years of practice, I realized I was interested not only in IP law, but in  other areas of law as well. When I decided to make the move to be Associate General Counsel at Arbor Networks, it was a purposeful decision to become more of a generalist as opposed to continuing on my path as an IP attorney. At Arbor, I was hired to manage a team advising on global commercial agreements. In addition, I was tasked with providing legal advice to the management team and other business leaders on a wide variety of legal matters.  On any given day, I could be advising the company about matters relating to employment issues, revenue questions, or sales contracts.

    Last year, I joined RSA Security, which is currently a part of Dell Technologies. But shortly after I joined, we found out that RSA was to be divested, and bought out by outside private equity investors. These past few months, we have been working on transition plans to become our own stand-alone company later this year. It’s an exciting time for RSA, and in some ways, it feels like a startup. Although it’s not the job I originally signed up for, which was working for a large, stable company like Dell, it has been fulfilling in its own way, and I am so grateful to be part of this journey.

    Every time I have taken on a new position, it’s been with a goal – either to get new experience, more responsibility, or advance in some other way. For example, at smaller companies, I acquired knowledge and experience, but sometimes there was no next step up on the so-called “corporate ladder." So I sometimes had to take the initiative and find my next role elsewhere in order to advance my career.

    • You have been quite involved over the years with both SABA Greater Boston and SABA North America. Recently, you joined the board of the Bedford Citizen, an online news source for the town in which you live. What other volunteer work have you done and what motivates you?

    I served as President for the South Asian American Law Students Association (SAALSA) at BU, so it was natural for me to continue to be involved with SABA when I became a lawyer. I was on the SABA GB board from 2006 to 2010, and served as VP in 2011. Then, my husband and I had our first child and I needed some time to recalibrate between work, a baby, and my sanity!

    In 2013, I joined the SABA North America Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of SABA North America, because it allowed me to do a lot of work remotely from home or the office, given that everyone on the Foundation board was scattered across the country. I served as President of the Foundation from 2015-2016 and have remained active since, as a Foundation Champion. I also served as SABA NA’s VP for Affiliate Relations in 2017-2018.

    The best part about being involved with SABA over these years is not only the leadership experience it has given me, but also a wide network of colleagues and deep friendships, not only locally in Boston, but also nationally.

    My husband and I moved to Bedford in 2013. After I got over the initial shock of moving from city life to suburban life, I decided to get more involved in my local community. Like many minorities, South Asians may not always see diversity being represented in their local communities, and particularly in leadership positions. But that doesn’t mean we should not participate. We have to overcome any initial discomfort and try to connect with the larger communities, so that we can be in the room where things happen. Otherwise, we are partly to blame if our voices are not heard.

    So, I want to be involved because this is the community where we decided to raise our family  and where my kids go to school. I realized that if I want to make an impact on this community we now call home, I should also invest some of my time and energy in serving on various local boards. 

    It was so rewarding when my son came home from school excited to tell me about a new math game that a teacher was introducing in his 1st grade class. As it turns out, I served on the Grant Committee of the Bedford Education Foundation which raises money for our schools and teachers. My son’s new math game was something that we funded.

    I’ve also had the honor of joining the board of the Bedford Citizen, an online news source established for educating the public about the local issues and events that affect the understanding and engagement of Bedford residents.  Whenever something that affects the Bedford community happens, the Citizen is at the forefront of the conversation.

    • Curious fact about Lalitha

    Lalitha met her husband, Anil Ranganath (also a lawyer), at a SABA Greater Boston networking event!  She says she owes a lot to SABA GB, both on the professional and personal front!

  • Saturday, July 04, 2020 3:10 PM | Zaheer Samee (Administrator)

    First in a series of spotlights of past SABA GB presidents

    Keerthi grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College in Maine, and earned her law degree summa cum laude from Suffolk University Law School in 2011. In law school she was a member of the Suffolk Journal of Trial and Appellate Advocacy. She was also the Chief Competition Director of the Moot Court Honor Board, a semifinalist in the Thomas C. Clark appellate advocacy competition, and quarter-finalist and second speaker at the Foreign Direct Investment International Moot Court Competition.

    She is currently an associate in the Boston, Massachusetts office of Jackson Lewis, P.C., a national labor and employment law firm with more than 950 lawyers. Her practice focuses on employment litigation, as well as providing employers with preventive advice and counsel.

    • When and how did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer?

    I knew I wanted to become a lawyer in high school.  I was an active member of the high school debate team and really enjoyed oral advocacy.  In college, I majored in Government & Legal Studies, which solidified my interest in pursuing a legal career.  After college, I was an immigration paralegal for two years.  Although I ultimately did not pursue an immigration career, the experience was extremely helpful because I had direct access and contact with clients on a day-to-day basis.  As a result, I learned valuable client development and management skills very early on in my career.

    • In your career so far, what are you most proud of?

    Volunteering with SABA GB and SABA NA, of course!  Growing up, I was surrounded by scientists, doctors, and engineers, but I did not know many attorneys.  My leap into the legal profession felt like a big one.  For this reason, working with SABA GB and SABA NA has been a highlight of my career.  I’ve created a valued support system and network, met several mentors, and made lasting friendships.   

    With respect to my work with these organizations, there is one moment that stands out among the rest.  When I was on the Board of SABA GB, I helped plan an event to honor the outstanding achievements of several SABA GB trail blazers, including the first South Asian judge on the Court of Appeals, the first South Asian elected public official in MA, the highest-ranking South Asian political appointee in Massachusetts, etc.  It was an inspiring event and I hope that it encouraged at least a few young South Asians to consider pursuing a career in the legal profession. 
    • You served on the SABA board in 2018 and 2019. The first year you received the Board Member of the Year Award. The second year you were president. Now you are working with SABA North America. Why should anyone get involved with SABA?

    As I noted above, working with SABA GB and SABA NA has been an invaluable experience for me.  I have put a lot of work into both organizations, but I have also made countless friends across the United States and Canada and expanded my professional network exponentially.  I have also had several opportunities as a panelist or speaker, which has only served to elevate my career.  For anyone thinking about joining, take the plunge!  You won’t regret it. 

    • Any advice to law students or new lawyers? What ,if anything, would you do differently if you could do it again?

    I’ve been asked this question several times and my answer is always the same: do not be afraid to deviate from your original law school career goals.  This was a hard lesson for me because I am a planner and I hate to deviate from my plans.  Over time, however, my interests, values, and obligations changed.  Allowing myself the flexibility to change and adapt was critical.

    • Your husband is a lawyer too. What is that like? Easier to understand each other sometimes? Do you ever talk shop?

    My husband, Peter Beebe (Northeastern ’13), is a probate attorney.  We talk about our work daily, sharing interesting stories or challenging cases with one another.  For me, it is helpful to share my work with him and get his perspective on my litigation work.  I wish I could say I am as helpful to him as he is to me.  Sadly, I understand very little about his probate practice.  

    One thing that is particularly helpful is that we each understand the demands of a client service industry.  If I need to take time on a weekend or during vacation to attend to client, Peter is extremely understanding and supportive.  Likewise, if he needs to work late or switch up the drop off/pick up schedule for our son, I try to accommodate him as much as possible.

    • Not only were you working, but you were also on the board and president while you had a young child at home. How did you manage that? Any advice for other lawyers juggling career and family commitments like you did?

    During my first year on the Board, I was on parental leave from April to October.  Obviously, my primary focus was watching my newborn, but I also planned a few events for SABA GB and prepared our pitch to host the SABA NA Conference in 2022!  I knew it would be hard to completely stop working, so working with SABA GB was the perfect balance.  The Board was extremely accommodating and supportive.  In fact, I brought my son to a Board meeting or two!

    When I became President and returned to work, the real juggle began.  I was trying to balance my obligations to my family, to work, and to SABA GB.  I probably worked late or attended events 3-4 nights a week.  Luckily, my husband and my parents encouraged me to push through and helped wherever and whenever they could.  It was an exhausting year, but the rewards were well worth it and I am proud of all that the Board was able to accomplish that year. 

    • Any hobbies, extra curricular activities, pastimes you enjoy when you were not working?

    My husband and I love to travel.  Although Covid-19 limits our travel plans this year, we are making the most of local hiking trails and beaches.  The best part is watching our two-year old son keep up on the trails!

     

     

SABA GB is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston
c/o Boston Bar Association
16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

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