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South Asian Bar Association of Toronto celebrates award winners

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 2:07 PM | By Carolyn Gruske


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The South Asian Bar Association (SABA) honoured two lawyers and one organization at its annual SABA Awards.

Sangeetha Punniyamoorthy

Sangeetha Punniyamoorthy, DLA Piper

Tejinder Singh won the president's award; Sangeetha Punniyamoorthy took home the legal excellence award; and the Canadian Cross Border Legal Coalition (CCBLC) earned the title of diversity award winner.

Punniyamoorthy is an equity partner at DLA Piper. She is a specialist in intellectual property (IP) litigation and has over a decade of experience litigating copyright, patent and trademark matters. Punniyamoorthy, who has an undergraduate degree in molecular biology, also provides advice in the procurement and enforcement of global brands in a variety of industries, with a focus on pharmaceuticals.

She is chair of the Ontario Bar Association's information technology and IP law section and is an active member of the Canada amicus subcommittee of the International Trademarks Association. Punniyamoorthy also mentors young lawyers through SABA.

In announcing her award, SABA said Punniyamoorthy “has been involved in incredibly complex IP litigation disputes, including numerous cross-border cases and high profile transactions. Notably, in 2016 she was the lead copyright lawyer in Stargrove Entertainment v. Universal et al., the first IP case to be granted leave to proceed by the Competition Tribunal. Sangeetha has appeared before all levels of court in her practice, including the Supreme Court of Canada.”

The legal excellence award recognizes lawyers who have achieved excellence in their areas of practice or have exceptionally contributed to the profession. Successful candidates need not have reached a senior level position, however their track record reflects a strong potential for distinction and leadership.

“Known for her technical expertise and her dedication to client service, Sangeetha is a driving force behind our firm's world-class IP practice,” said Michael Richards, managing partner of DLA Piper’s Toronto office. “We are thrilled to see her receive this well-deserved recognition.”

The diversity award goes to an individual or organization that has demonstrated exemplary commitment to the promotion and recognition of diversity in the legal profession. SABA described the Canadian Cross Border Legal Coalition as having originated from “a commitment to protecting the dignity of those who had become targets of official government discrimination.”

Led by Toronto human rights lawyer Corey Shefman, the organization originally began as a group of lawyers who began volunteering at Pearson International Airport and Billy Bishop Airport in January and February 2017 to assist travellers who were affected by the ban American President Donald Trump imposed on travellers from eight different Muslim countries. The volunteers ensured there was a lawyer present at all times to assist stranded passengers who were no longer able to enter the United States.

In introducing the organization, SABA explained, “the coalition was subsequently born out of these efforts. It brings together volunteer lawyers, law students and organizations such as the Refugee Hub, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, in a joint, ongoing effort to oppose the ban as it stands today, as well as assist those who are impacted. The coalition remains active in monitoring U.S. government efforts to revive the ban.”

Singh, who won the president’s award, is a U.S.-based lawyer who is a partner and an appellate and Supreme Court litigator at Goldstein & Russell P.C., which describes itself as a boutique firm focusing on representation before the United States Supreme Court. In 2014, he became the first turbaned Sikh to ever argue in court.