Temple Law School: When did you join this organization?
Reena Naik: I joined the South Asian Law Students Association as a 1L. I first heard about SALSA at the student organization fair during 1L orientation. The members of SALSA were incredibly welcoming and approachable. I later became a 1L Representative as I wanted to have a more active role in the organization.
TLS: Why did you decide to join this group?
RN: I decided to become a SALSA member because it truly felt like a family and my “home away from home.” As a native of Birmingham, Alabama, I was completely new to Philadelphia. Luckily, I found some of my closest friends and mentors through SALSA which helped ease the transition to a new city and starting law school.
I also joined SALSA because I am a first-generation law student. I knew very few lawyers prior to law school and wanted to expand my professional network. Temple SALSA has a great relationship with the South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia. I met several practicing South Asian attorneys in Philadelphia who provided me with much-needed advice and mentorship.
TLS: What is your organization’s mission?
RN: At its core, SALSA’s mission is to provide a support network to minority law students, reduce barriers in the legal profession, and promote diversity and inclusion. As part of this mission, we emphasize mentorship and community support. This past year, for instance, we launched a structured mentorship program where we paired first-year students with second and third-year students based on similar legal interests. We also organized events such as a Karaoke Night and an Unity Dinner to bring students together outside of law school.
TLS: Can you tell us about a recent or annual event that your organization hosted?
RN: One of our signature events is the annual SALSA Career Panel. We bring attorneys of South Asian backgrounds to speak and network with current law students. This past year, we had attorneys from big-law, public interest, and in-house counsel positions serve as panelists. SALSA members consistently rank this event as their favorite because it provides examples of successful South Asian attorneys in Philadelphia who are excited to share insight into their respective fields with students.
TLS: What do you gain as a law student from your involvement in this organization?
RN: SALSA is open to anyone and as part of it, you gain a community of students willing to support you throughout your time in law school. While we focus on professional development, we also organize and attend fun events as well. This past semester, Penn Law’s SALSA Chapter hosted the first ever student-led SALSA Conference. Temple SALSA members attended the conference and met South Asian students from other Philadelphia-area law schools. Our members also attended the South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia’s Second Annual Gala last semester.