Jul 3, 2007

The Difference between NetSAP and NASABA

Before I took the law school path, I used to think that of all the second generation organizations out there in desi land, NetSAP was the worst of the bunch. With events that were thinly veiled meat markets, 3-minute conversations that died when you said the word "non-profit," and the infiltration of more suits at Basement Bhangra than a sale at Nordstroms, I guess I had just cause. And I definitely dreaded going to anything where "NetSAP people" would be.

In that vein, the current -- and seemingly perennial -- flurry of vocal disgust/opposition to NASABA in the days before their annual conference has quickly and permanently displaced NetSAP from its reviled position as the most privileged and clueless organization in the community.

However, with all due (lack of) respect, while some may want to just lump together organizations as two sides of the same socially unconscious coin (I'll call it NetSABA to save space), I have a special place I've reserved for the lawyer group. Still, I thought it would be instructive to highlight a few small points where they are clearly different. So humbly, I present to you:

Five Ways to Tell the Difference Between NetSAP and NASABA

5. Over time, NetSAP events have actually become less of a meat market.

4. NetSAP actually does community service as a group.

3. NetSAP's chapters don't think the national board has gone off the deep end.

2. NetSAP leadership seems to understand what it means to be a professional organization, and leaves the policy work to people who aren't blinded by personal agendas or biases.

1. NASABA has an elephant in its logo. (Realize that was for NASALSA, i.e. NASABA's Farm Team)

With NetSAP, it was a stereotype of the membership and the events/activities that drove some of the antagonism. There weren't really specific personalities or even particular issues with the leadership. But with NASABA - it's all about specific personalities and their ability to turn personal worldviews and career ambition (such as entry-level prosecutors and big firm people) into the full-on persona of the organization.

While their events leave little more than a bad taste in your mouth if you have any public interest leaning (not because there aren't people with strong public interest or pro bono commitments in the membership, but because the leadership seems clueless about any of it). Also, the leadership has taken a highly questionable aggressive pro-prosecutor/DEA stance on something like Operation Meth Merchant - a program that so clearly stinks of selective enforcement and racial profiling that even my Mom gets that it's wrong.

The leadership should poll the members and other South Asian attorneys to see how on point their cockeyed stance has been, and how it resonates with their own membership. Hell, they should add a question about whether they really matter at all. Meanwhile, until they do something about their madness, here's the petition telling them they don't represent them. Sign it, and pass it on.

And then keep focusing on work that actually matters.

No comments: