July 6, 2011 Candidates for IABA At-Large Election

Candidate Statements for IABA At-Large Representatives

Occupation:  Attorney Advisor, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Law School:  J.D., Georgetown University School of Law (2005)
College:  B.A., Middle East Studies, Columbia University (2002)
Please describe any prior work for IABA.
My association with IABA began in 2004 and predates my entry into the legal profession: as a law student, I participated in IABA’s mentoring program. My mentor has been an extremely helpful advisor to this day and, in fact, his encouragement and recommendation played a significant role in my move to my current position at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 
In addition, I have attended numerous IABA events over the years in New York and Washington DC.  As a result of my positive experiences, I am keen to become more deeply involved in IABA’s activities.
Please describe (a) why you feel you are qualified for this position; and (b) what you hope to accomplish if elected to this position.
I believe that because of my education, work experience, and strong interest in the Iranian-American community and determination to help its advancement, I am qualified to serve on the Board of Directors. I focused my undergraduate training at Columbia University on Middle East Studies, and my law school studies at Georgetown University included several topics of interest for Iranian-Americans, including immigration/asylum and civil rights. My varied work experiences include exposure to both the private and public sectors and in both the U.S. and Iran. After finishing law school, I worked at a consulting firm in Tehran that advised multinational companies. 
I then worked for several years at Milbank Tweed, a New York law firm, where I represented a diverse group of clients in a wide variety of corporate transactions. In that time I was also very active in pro bono matters; I worked closely on an international child kidnapping case that ended with a Ninth Circuit decision (and, happily, a return home for the child). I am currently serving at a financial regulatory agency and playing a significant role on a crucial rulemaking project that is part of the U.S. government’s ongoing financial system reforms, and consequently I have gained great insight into administrative law as well as the intersection of politics and policy. All of these experiences can make me a valuable contributor to the Board because they are combined with my eagerness to serve the Iranian-American community. I was born in Iran and spent my early childhood there; those formative years created the roots of my lifelong bond with Iran, Iranians and Iranian-Americans (and no doubt helped my Farsi skills – I am fluent in speaking, reading and writing). That bond has only increased with my move to the U.S. and my integration into life in this country, as I have always been aware of my status as an Iranian-American and motivated to strengthen and promote our community.
It is through IABA that I hope to advance this goal, and there is much that I hope to accomplish to that end if I am given the opportunity to serve on the Board. IABA has a strong foundation in place, but I would strive to strengthen many of its activities. For example, I would support greater efforts to promote and expand the pro bono program, as it is a very positive win-win scenario: members of the Iranian-American community receive needed legal representation, and in providing those services IABA members receive the satisfaction of helping the community while also gaining valuable experience. I would also strive to improve the mentoring program, from which I have significantly benefited. This program is especially important for law student members and young attorney members given the uncertainty in today’s legal climate. In addition, I would work to have more educational events to inform the Iranian-American community on legal issues of interest. For these and all other IABA initiatives, I would pursue greater and more effective communications with IABA members and the wider Iranian-American community.
Occupation:  Partner, Asvar, Odjaghian & Associates, APC
Law School:  J.D., Loyola Law School (2003)
College:  B.S., Biology, University of California, Davis (1995)
Please describe any prior work for IABA.
I have maintained great interest and enthusiasm for IABA and its mission through the past several years, but my work has thus far been more in terms of “assistance” than actual “work”. For the Los Angeles chapter’s 2010 Noerooz Gala, I was able to bring the Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to the event and present him to the IABA chapter. In 2010, I also had the pleasure of working with IABA to promote the judgeship election campaign of Mark Ameli by securing the participation and representation of the members in fundraising events.
Please describe (a) why you feel you are qualified for this position; and (b) what you hope to accomplish if elected to this position.
My resume conveys a broad range of experience with a variety of different people in a variety of different academic, professional and social settings.  These varied sets of experiences b e it a science scholar, a law firm’s managing attorney, a successful litigator (so far), or public educator and speaker will all be essential in motivating and bringing members together to create a more perfect union of esteemed legal colleagues under the umbrella of IABA. 
I believe that given the sheer number of Iranians living in Los Angeles and the wide array of talented Iranian lawyers professionally active in this community, the LA Chapter of IABA should shine as a national example in leadership and excellence. 
What I hope to accomplish with my involvement is to first, unite the leadership and membership of the IABA and the IALA (Iranian American Lawyer’s Association).
Curious enough, not many members of the Los Angeles Iranian bar are even aware that there are two separate and distinct legal organizations almost in competition with one another for recognition. To many, they are indistinguishable acronyms that show-up on e-mail subject lines. I would make it my goal to unite the strengths and talents of these two organizations and bring them under the same umbrella in some form agreeable to the membership of both organizations but undeniably united and connected. 
I further believe that in addition to all the remarkable and hard work performed to date by prior representatives and presidents of the IABA chapter, we still have a great deal more to do, a great distance yet to go. With great zeal, I hope to raise the visibility of IABA chapter in relation to other bar associations in Los Angeles. While our community is still quite young in relation to many other minority groups who took root in Los Angeles nearly a century ago, as individuals we have exceeded all expectations. It is time for our organizations and foremost our bar associations to reflect the true potential of our individual members. 
Through greater participation in civic and charitable events, and greater media presence with the assistance of other Chapter and national IABA leaders, we can fashion the IABA as a progressive social organization and think tank that can provide perspective on legal issues pertinent to not only the Iranian community, but also the Southern California and the nation as a whole. We certainly have the prerequisite intellectual prowess and mind-power within our ranks to take on a variety of challenges and projects. 
What we have lacked thus far is the organization capability to display and project these talents in the local media, thereby not only raising the profile of Iranian lawyers but also the Iran-American community. 
 I hope that by establishing committees devoted to several specific and attainable tasks and goals, and by recruiting talented members to the ranks of these committees, within a year’s time, the IABA can have an entirely different raison d’être and ego that it presently has. In short , hope to assist in changing the essence of the Los Angeles chapter from merely “being” to actively “doing”
Occupation:  Principal, Ferrari Legal, P.C.
Law School:  J.D., St. Mary’s University School of Law (2006)
College:  B.A., History & Political Science, Purdue University (2002)
Please describe any prior work for IABA.
As previously stated in this application I have served on the IABA’s DC Chapter Board of Directors for over a year. During this time I have brought officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to speak with the Iranian American community about how Iran sanctions impact their daily lives. In addition, I spend a considerable amount of time providing free legal advice to members of the Iranian American community as well as to other Iranian American lawyers about issues pertaining to federal criminal defense work and U.S. economic sanctions.
Moreover, my time on the DC Chapter’s Board of Directors has provided me the opportunity to assist in the coordination of a number of events which have benefited the Iranian American community both through educational and networking opportunities. 
Furthermore, I have experience in both solo practice and small firm environments. Most recently, I have grown my own solo practice into a small boutique firm. This opportunity to both practice law and run a business has been a challenge; however, it has provided me with perspective on how to operate an organization and to coordinate with other team members to see a project to its ends. 
It is this experience and my demonstrated commitment to the Iranian American community which I hope to bring to the national board and augment an already tremendous board.
Please describe (a) why you feel you are qualified for this position; and (b) what you hope to accomplish if elected to this position.
As a national board member, I would hope to continue my work in coordinating efforts to educate the Iranian American community on how Iran sanctions impact their lives. 
Aside from that, I would be interested in assisting in the IABA’s mentorship program. I think the challenges of a legal education and a legal career can be rigorous and as is the case in any undertaking mentorship is vital to success. 
Finally, I was very impressed in the stance that IABA national board took in assisting in the preparation of an Amicus Brief for the Banki case. I feel as a national organization of attorneys it is important to be involved in commenting on and participating in contemporary legal matters that impact the Iranian American community. 
In sum, my hopes as a national board member are two-fold. First, I would like to help foster cooperation amongst the various regional chapters for the provision of educational programs pertinent to issues impacting the Iranian American community. Second, I would like to participate in activities that preserve the rights of Iranian Americans living here in the United States and abroad.
Occupation:  Partner, BHFA Law Group, PLLC
Law School:  J.D., George Mason School of Law (2003)
College:  B.A., Economics & International Relations, Tufts University (2000)
Other Graduate: LL.M., Boston University School of Law
Please describe any prior work for IABA. 
I have been involved in the IABA for many years and this is my second term on the Board (first was in 2008).  I have been involved with both local and national matters.  With respect to the latter, I have been involved with several key agenda and initiative issues and have helped formulate positions on critical matters.  I have also co-authored an article n humanitarian assistance to Iran.
Please describe (a) why you feel you are qualified for this position; and (b) what you hope to accomplish if elected to this position.
(a) I have worked with the IABA for many year and am therefore very familiar with its history as well as its operation and management.  Given my background as someone who has worked both in the major firms and as a solo and small firm, I have the relatively unique perspective of being on both sides of private legal practice.  As such, I feel I can better assess issues that one of relevance and importance to a wide range of members. 
(b) I hope to further IABA’s accomplishments to date.  This organization has come a long way in the past 10 years and I hope we can continue this path.  Furthermore, it will be great if IABA can build on its past successes and work on expanding outreach and improve networking and referral opportunities for students and practitioners.  Also I will try to help IABA work with other Iranian-American groups to bolder the community’s profile in the United States.
Occupation:  Assistant U.S. Attorney
Law School:  J.D., Columbia Law School (2002)
College:  Brown University (1999)
Please describe any prior work for IABA. 
In 2008, I served on the IABA Board of Directors.  During my tenure on the board, I organized educational and professional development programs for the members of the New York chapter. 
Please describe (a) why you feel you are qualified for this position; and (b) what you hope to accomplish if elected to this position.
If elected to the IABA Board of Directors, I would organize educational and networking events for the Los Angeles chapter, as well as help expand opportunities for growth on the national level.  Among other things, I would seek to institute a mentorship program for the organization’s younger members and establish ties with sister bar organizations.