July 8, 2011
By  Jerry Crimmins
Law Bulletin staff writer

A group of students at Chicago-Kent College of Law started what they believe is the first journal of any American law school to focus exclusively on South Asian-American legal affairs.

The journal is called Satyam, or Truth in Sanskrit.

“For us second and third generation of South Asian-Americans,” said Rohit Paul, the first editor-in-chief, the journal is intended to address U.S. legal issues related to Americans of that descent.

South Asians, according to Paul, are people from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. Chicago-Kent has 30 to 50 students of that heritage, mostly of Indian or Pakistani background. About 30 of them belong to the South Asian Law Students Association, or SALSA, he said.

Paul, 27, was born and raised in Chicago.

The managing editor of the journal this past school year, Sathish Dhandayutham, 28, is originally from Long Island, N.Y.

Neha Tannan, 24, who will be editor-in-chief or one of them during the next school year, is from Oshkosh, Wis.

All three are of Indian descent.

The inaugural edition of Satyam is scheduled to come out online in August, Paul said. It will have three articles.

One article will be about “growing discrimination against South Asians on the basis of religion,” Paul said, with a focus on opposition to the proposed mosque near ground zero, the former site of the World Trade Center in New York.

The authors of that article are Mary Cyriac and Priya Murphy. Murphy is policy director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, or SAALT. Cyriac is a policy associate at SAALT, an organization headquartered in Maryland. Both Murphy and Cyriac are lawyers, according to Tannan.

Another article and one that Paul said is controversial is about “domestic violence and the South Asian community.”

Written by Laura Finley, a professor of sociology and criminology at Barry University in Florida, it discusses “an issue that faces all communities,” Paul said, and is important to the South Asian community.

One person the author spoke to works for Apna Ghar in Chicago, a domestic violence shelter for women of all nationalities, that is nevertheless aimed at South Asian women. Apna Ghar means Our Home in Hindi, Paul said.

Chicago-Kent students of South Asian descent volunteer at Apna Ghar, he said, and the home tries to provide legal services for the women there.

Paul said he wrote the third article himself on the subject of employment discrimination against South Asian immigrants in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It will include the Bellingham Riots in Washington state in 1907, a situation that Paul said “forced all Indian laborers out of Washington state.”

Many went to California and became farmers, Paul said.

Paul’s article will also discuss discrimination by labor unions against South Asians and the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bhagat Singh Thind, a U.S. Army veteran who was born in India in 1892, came to the United States in 1913 and who was denied U.S. citizenship because he was a Hindu. The case is U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923).

Paul is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Niles and Loyola University Chicago. He started his legal studies at Ave Maria Law School and completed his last two years at Chicago-Kent. A May graduate, he is now studying for the bar.

Paul was president of the South Asian Law Student Association at Chicago-Kent in the last school year. He said the idea for the journal originated at a 2010 conference of the North American South Asian Law Student Association in Washington, D.C.

Dhandayutham also attended the conference.

They learned there is no law student-produced journal focusing exclusively on South Asian legal affairs. So the board of SALSA at Chicago-Kent decided to start one.

The students began it with the help of Stephen D. Sowle, assistant dean for academic administration and student affairs.

Both Paul and Dhandayutham also said they received great advice from Cook County Associate Judge Sanjay T. Tailor.

Then they started soliciting articles.

Paul and Dhandayutham graduated from Chicago-Kent in May and are now studying for the bar exam.

Tannan, who will be a third-year student in the fall, said she hopes to get an article for the next annual edition of Satyam on medical malpractice law or personal injury law. She also will try to solicit an article on intellectual property because “a lot of South Asian attorneys do IP,” she said. “A lot have science and engineering backgrounds.”

In fact, Paul said, “joining law is a relatively new thing” for people of South Asian descent.

Paul said he would like to pursue a career in education law and eventually teach in a law school.

Dhandayutham said his “main love” is criminal law, but he is also interested in immigration law, corporate and international law.

Tannan said she is considering medical malpractice law.

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