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US: 3 Indian-Americans among 50 most influential minority lawyers

June 19, 2008 20:45 IST

Three Indian-American attorneys -- Preeta Bansal, Sri Srinivasan, and Prakash Mehta, are among the National Law Journal's 50 most influential minority lawyers in America.

Bansal, 42, is a partner and head of the appellate litigation practice at the New York firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager & From; Srinivasan, 41, is a partner at the Washington, DC office of O-Melveny & Myers; and Mehta, is a partner, at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, also in Washington, DC.

The journal said that Bansal "has been counsel of record in the US Supreme Court for a party or amicus in more than 20 cases at the merits stage and in more than a dozen at petition for certiorari state."

It noted that one of those included "upholding proposed exercise of eminent domain in 2007, the second US court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of a complaint filed by property owners opposing the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn, New York, which included a new stadium for the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets."

According to the journal, "It was one of the first significant constitutional takings case since Kelo v. New London."

It also said that "Bansal is an adviser to (Democratic presidential candidate) Barack Obama on outreach to Indian-Americans."

Srinivasan, the journal said, "Has spent most of his career practicing before the US Supreme Court having argued 12 cases before the high court since 2002."

"He is widely recognised for his successes, including two high-profile but unrelated wins decided on April 17,2007," it said.

The journal in its pen-sketch noted that "following a clerkship with former United States Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Srinivasan was recruited by former solicitor general Walter Dellinger in 1998 to help start O'Melveny & Myers' appellate group. He worked for Democrat Al Gore's legal team in the Florida recount litigation following the 2000 presidential election."

"In 2002, Srinivasan was hired away by Theodore B Olson, who'd been lead counsel for George W Bush in the recount litigation to join the office of the solicitor general. Srinivasan returned to O'Melveny's appellate group in 2007."

Mehta, as head of Akin Gump's private equity and investment funds practice, the journal said, represents, "Some of the largest and most prominent hedge and private equity funds in the world. He evaluates, structures and negotiates the mergers, acquisitions and investments, and is expert in legal and regulatory matters in diversity markets including India, China, Russia, the Middle East and Latin America."

It described him as "a rare practitioner, who can take a fund from its inception through its various stages of growth, and is well placed to spot complex investment trends as they emerge. His clients have included the Carlyle Group, Warburg Pincus LLC and Soros Fund Management LLC."

Bansal is an alumnus of Harvard Law School from where she graduated in 1989 magna cum laude, and where she served as a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review, after which she clerked with US Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens.

From 1993 to 1996, she served in the Clinton administration both in the Department of Justice and the White House and from 1999 to 2001, she was the solicitor general of New York, during which time, each year during her tenure, she received the 'Best United States Supreme Court Brief' award from the National Association of Attorneys General.

For the past five years, Bansal has served as a commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom -- a bipartisan Congressionally mandated agency. In April, New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg appointed her to the New York City's Campaign Finance Board.

The national journal reported recently that Bansal is part of the "inner circle" of Senator Obama's presidential campaign.

Srinivasan, is an alumnus of Stanford Law School, Class of 1995 from where he also received an MBA the same year. He was the associate editor of the Stanford Law Review.

Mehta, is an alumnus of George University's Law Center from where he graduated magna cum laude in 1994, and served as associate editor of The Georgetown Law Journal.

The National Law Journal in introducing the 50 Top Minority Lawyers, said, "First, a reality check -- at last count, a mere 5.4 percent of partners at US law firms were members of minority groups. For women of colour, the figure was fewer than 1.7 percent."

"But what an amazing group of people those numbers represent and what a payoff for the firms, law schools and corporation that invested in diversity," it said.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC