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SABA-DC Public Interest Fellowship Program

SABA-DC provides financial assistance in the form of summer fellowships to law students working in the public interest sector for the benefit of the South Asian community and the metropolitan D.C. area.  The public interest sector includes six types of settings: nonprofit organizations; legal services organizations; district attorneys/public defenders; federal, state, and local government; federal and state clerkships/judicial internships; and public service law firms.  Since the Public Interest Fellowship program’s inception in 2006, SABA-DC has provided well over $100,000 in funding to highly qualified and outstanding law students.

Applicants must be current law students in good standing, and must plan to be employed in the public sector during the summer. SABA-DC considers all of the materials submitted by the applicant, with particular weight given to the applicant’s essay. Other factors that SABA-DC may consider include commitment to public service, financial need, academic achievement, and other personal circumstances.  

The Application for SABA-DC's 2020 Public Interest Fellowship Program is NOW AVAILABLE at the link below.  The due date for applications has been extended until May 15, 2020!

SABA DC Fellowship_Application_2020.docx

For more information about the Public Interest Fellowship Program, please contact us at sabadcpifellowship@gmail.com.  For more information about contributing to the Public Interest Fellowship Fund, please contact us at: sabadcpresident@gmail.com.

**2019 Fellows**

SABA-DC 2019 Public Interest Fellowship Video

Karin Bashir

My name is Karin Bashir, and I am a rising 3L at UC Berkeley School of Law. I am very grateful to be selected as a SABA-DC fellow and for the support to pursue my current internship position at the US Department of Justice Housing and Civil Enforcement section of the Civil Rights Division. 

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I chose to apply to this internship due to my anger at ongoing and pervasive discrimination in America today and my frustration over the lack of access to justice. While our legal system prohibits housing and credits discrimination, due to issues like the prohibitive cost of litigation, recourse is rarely available to the many marginalized victims.  Through my internship, I am going to get the chance to work directly on these issues by interviewing witnesses, researching legal issues, participating in trial strategy sessions, analyzing evidence, and drafting memoranda, motions and briefs. 

This experience will help me develop the skills to fight on behalf of my community, and other marginalized communities who face discrimination in our country today. I hope that my internship this summer will help me develop into an effective and fierce legal advocate. Through sharpening my legal skills, growing my professional network, and learning from my mentors, I believe this summer in DC will be a critical step in guiding my legal career. 

Manal Cheema

I am a rising 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law. I graduated from Tufts University in 2017. Before law school, I interned for my U.S. Senator, state Attorney General, and my county’s District Attorney. I also was a Congressional Fellow for Acquisitions at the Department of Defense.


At UVA, I am the President of Virginia Law Women, and I am serving or have served on the boards for the Law and Public Service Program, South Asian Law Students Association, Minority Rights Coalition, and the Virginia Journal for International Law. I am involved with UVA’s Center for National Security Law. Further, I am a research assistant for Professor Jill I. Goldenziel at the Marine Corps University. For my 1L summer, I interned under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

This summer I am splitting my time between the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, specifically the Counterterrorism Section (“CTS”), and the Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser (“L”). At CTS, I am performing a variety of legal research and writing projects related to ongoing terrorism investigations and prosecution. Primarily, I am drafting and reviewing legal process documents. My goal is to learn how to litigate counterterrorism cases and improve my trial skills. At L, I will be supporting attorneys in performing tasks related to international agreements, U.S. domestic statutes with extraterritorial reach, and other legal documents. I hope my time there will promote the United States’ adherence to, and the development of, international law and U.S. foreign policy.  

I am truly grateful that SABA-DC is supporting my public service ambitions this summer while providing me with a strong community in Washington, D.C.

Maya Chaudhuri

Maya Chaudhuri is a rising second-year law student at UCLA School of Law, where she is co-chair of the South Asian Law Students Association.  She is from Arlington, Virginia and completed her undergraduate education at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.  C:\Users\pbhanu\Downloads\1101.jpg

Prior to law school, Maya was a Senior Investigator in the Impact Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights, working on litigation related to indigent defense, misdemeanor fines and fees, conditions of confinement, and other unconstitutional practices. 

This summer, she is a clerk in the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia.  Maya will work on cases where clients were sentenced to life as juveniles and are now eligible to be re-sentenced under DC law, as well as other civil litigation matters.  Maya is looking forward to learning more about client-centered work, mitigation, and the criminal justice system in DC. 

Mirelle Raza

Mirelle Raza grew up in Massachusetts before moving to the Bay Area for her undergraduate studies at Santa Clara University. She graduated 14 months early magna cum laude with a double major in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies. While at SCU, Mirelle interned at the Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy, working specifically on policy and legislative initiatives, including violence against women, criminal justice, and living wage ordinances. Mirelle later used her policy experience to co-author a petition that served as the largest student response to modifications regarding SCU faculty and staff access to reproductive health care. In her last year, she was accepted to a study abroad program in Europe where she volunteered at a home for abused girls, while also participating in social justice projects in Italy, Croatia, and Bosnia.C:\Users\pbhanu\Downloads\IMG_4549.jpg

Upon graduation Mirelle was hired to the San Francisco District Attorney's office as a victim advocate, where she specialized in child and adult sexual assault cases, with a focus on human trafficking. Her work included trial advocacy, resource accessibility, and direct services at sting operations. 

Working with survivors inspired Mirelle to increase her ability to advocate by pursuing a Juris Doctor at USC Gould School of Law, where she is a Public Interest Scholar, the Social Chair for APALSA, the Academic Chair for First Generation Professionals, and the President of the Public Interest Law Foundation.

This summer Mirelle is working in Washington D.C. with the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Her work will include legal research and writing assignments related to the distribution and production of child pornography, trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation, and "sex tourism." Mirelle looks forward to learning more about the legal strategy behind building and arguing federal prosecution cases and how the office works with survivors in furtherance of their healing process.

Outside of her passion for service Mirelle enjoys staying active and is a two-time USA Rugby national champion. She has also recently started practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


The Public Interest Fellowship is funded through the generosity of SABA-DC members and its supporters.  Each fall, SABA-DC hosts an annual Public Interest Benefit Gala to raise funds for this important program and to celebrate its fellows.

If you cannot attend the Gala but would like to support the fellowship, please submit a donation using the form below.  We truly appreciate your support!

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Our goal is to address the needs and concerns of the South Asian American legal community in Washington, D.C. while providing our members with the knowledge and support necessary to reach their personal and professional goals.

You can find us here:

South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

P.O. Box 65349
Washington, D.C. 20035

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