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April 21 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

This year, Santa Clara Journal of International Law (JIL), Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner (SLW) (sponsor), and The Center for Global Law and Policy (donor) cordially invite students, faculty, practitioners, and members of our Santa Clara community to our annual International Law Symposium on  on Friday, April 21st, 2023 from 11 am – 3 pm at Santa Clara Law School! The topic this year is Gender Inequality in Iran. The event will focus on education, civil liberties, and human rights issues in the context of gender inequality. 

The panel will consist of four speakers, including: Attorney Samira Nikaein, Author Ava Homa, SCU Professor Mary Hegland, and SFSU Professor Persis Karim. The Journal is honored to welcome Honrorable Judge Iravani-Sani, as our keynote speaker.


11 am – 12 pm

Buffet Lunch

Charney Hall, Atrium

12-12:30 pm

Keynote Speaker Judge Iravani-Sani

Charney Hall, Room 106

12:30-2 pm

Panel Discussion

Charney Hall, Room 106

Attorney Samira Nikaein, Law Offices of Samira Nikaein

Author Ava Homa, Author of Daughters of Smoke & Fire

Professor Mary Hegland, Santa Clara University

Professor Persis Karim, San Francisco State University

2 pm – 3 pm 

Reception & Book Signing by Ava Homa

Charney Hall, Room 106 / Atrium


Eligible attorneys will be able to receive 2 hours of MCLE credit for their attendance. Our event is FREE to all attendees and lunch is provided! Please RSVP HERE to confirm your attendance at our event. 





Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner, P.A. is a vibrant and innovative law firm dedicated exclusively to the practice of intellectual property law. Our 100+ intellectual property attorneys serve a roster of clients that includes startups, universities, multinational corporations, middle-market businesses, and individuals in matters spanning the entire technical spectrum including those relating to digital healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical technology. 

Representative: Andre Marais (AMarais@slwip.com)

To learn more, visit: About Intellectual Property Law | Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner (slwip.com)


The Center for Global Law and Policy (CGLP) offers opportunities for students and faculty to examine, experience, and contribute to a scholarly platform for international law at Santa Clara University. The international law curriculum at Santa Clara includes a broad offering of courses, access to the most extensive and one of the oldest law summer abroad programs of any law school in the country, and access to a number of international speakers and scholars throughout the year.

To learn more, visit: https://law.scu.edu/international/





Hon. Nahal Iravani-Sani is a Superior Court Judge presiding in Santa Clara County, California. She has dedicated her entire professional career to public service. She currently serves on the Superior Court’s Community Outreach Committee, Equality and Social Justice Committee, and is the co-chair of the Judicial Mentorship Program with the goal of recruiting and developing a highly qualified and inclusive judicial applicant pool reflective of the state’s rich diversity.

 Prior to joining the bench, Judge Iravani-Sani was a Deputy District Attorney for 23 years, representing the People of the State of California through all phases of the criminal justice system, including Violent Felonies, Domestic Violence, Narcotics, Environmental Crimes, Consumer Fraud, and the Sexual Assault Unit.

 Dedicated to education and mentorship, Judge Iravani-Sani instructed Trial Advocacy at Stanford Law School, instructed Trial Techniques at Santa Clara University School of Law, and coached the award winning Willow Glen High School Mock Trial Team. She enjoys serving as a mentor to the next generation of trial attorneys.

 In 2017, California Governor Edmund G. Brown appointed Hon. Iravani-Sani as the first Iranian-American judge to serve on the Santa Clara County Superior Court. She is currently presiding on the Felony Trials unit of the Criminal Division.

 In 2019, in collaboration with the Iranian American Bar Association, the Judge Iravani-Sani Public Interest Scholarship was established to support law students pursuing careers in public interest law.

 Judge Iravani-Sani has been the recipient of the Unity Award by the San Francisco Minority Bar Coalition, the Distinguished Service Award by the Iranian American Bar Association, and the Judge’s Night Diversity Award by the Santa Clara County Bar Association for her commitment and leadership in promoting diversity in the legal profession. In 2021, she was the recipient of the Santa Clara University School of Law Social Justice and Human Rights Award for her dedication to social justice issues. Most recently, Judge Iravani-Sani was the recipient of the 2022 Hon. Mary Jo Levinger Woman Jurist of the Year award.



Ava Homa is the award-winning author of Daughters of Smoke and Fire, a journalist and an activist. Her words have appeared in the Globe and Mail, Guardian, BBC, New Statesman, LiteraryHub, Literary Review of Canada, and many more outlets. She holds a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor in Canada, and another in English Language and Literature from Tehran, Iran. She was born and raised in the Kurdistan province and now divides her time between Toronto and San Francisco. 

Her debut novel Daughters of Smoke and Fire won the 2020 Silver Nautilus Award for fiction, was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan Writing Prize, and was a Roxane Gay’s book club pick. Her collection of short stories Echoes from the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize. Homa is also the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship.

In different settings across North America and Europe, including in the United Nations and Geneva, Homa has delivered speeches on Kurdish women’s triumphs and struggles, human rights in Iran, writing as resistance, unveiling through voice, the Iranian women’s movement, and many other topics. She has taught creative writing workshops to writers from diverse age ranges and backgrounds, has judged writing contests, and has served on the editorial board of the Write Magazine as well as the National Council of The Writers’ Union of Canada as its second vice chair. 



Persis Karim is a poet, editor, and Professor of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University. She also holds the Neda Nobari Endowed Chair and directs the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. She has published numerous journal articles about literature and culture of the Iranian diaspora and is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature: 

  • A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans
  • Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, and
  • Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers

Learn more at: www.persiskarim.com and read her most recent article HERE



Mary Elaine Hegland’s field work has been in the Middle East and South Asia: Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. She has also worked among Iranian Americans in the California Bay Area and involves students in research projects among people of Iranian and other Middle Eastern backgrounds in the Santa Clara area. Dr. Hegland’s publications deal with the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979; women and gender in religion and politics in Iran; change and continuity in an Iranian village; and women and gender in Shia Muslim rituals in Pakistan. Currently, Dr. Hegland is conducting research about aging and the elderly in Iran and among Iranian Americans in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. She also plans to study women, gender, family hierarchy, and dynamics as related to aging and the elderly in Tajikistan. Professor Hegland retired in June 2020.



Samira Nikaein is an accomplished attorney and litigator. She received her bachelor degree in psychology from the University of California, Davis followed by a Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. She has received the Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Award multiple times. She has overcome many obstacles in her life from living in Iran during the revolution, living through most of the war between Iran and Iraq, and migrating to the United States and learning English. Although she is dyslexic, nevertheless, she graduated from law school with Honors.

In 2009, Ms. Nikaein finished Court Appointed Special Advocacy training (CASA) and became a court certified child advocate in Santa Clara County. Currently, she is serving on the Board of Directors for Contra Costa County.

Ms. Nikaein has always been an active member of her community. She was one the original founders of the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) for the Northern California Chapter. She also served as one of the directors and board members of the IABA for three years.

She was an adjunct professor at Lincoln School of Law. Additionally, she has been a guest speaker throughout the years for different organizations including Santa Clara School of Law, Santa Clara Family Court Services, Maitri, and PARS International TV. She also co-hosted a program with the Honorable Judge Susan Etezadi of San Mateo County. In addition, she served as a Vice-President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for two years for Walnut Creek School District.

In addition to being an attorney, she has her California Real Estate Broker License and Cosmetology License which was obtained while she was attending high school. Currently, she is a Certified Yoga instructor and life coach. She has a number of students all over the world guiding them to design their lives.


Set in Iran, this extraordinary debut novel takes listeners into the everyday lives of the Kurds. Leila dreams of making films to bring the suppressed stories of her people onto the global stage, but obstacles keep piling up. Leila’s younger brother Chia, influenced by their father’s past torture, imprisonment, and his deep-seated desire for justice, begins to engage with social and political affairs. But his activism grows increasingly risky and one day he disappears in Tehran. Seeking answers about her brother’s whereabouts, Leila fears the worst and begins a campaign to save him; but, when she publishes Chia’s writings online, she finds herself in grave danger as well. 

Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the lives and stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds and a powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family, perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.



April 21
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Event Categories:


Charney Hall
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050 United States
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  • April 21
  • 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Charney Hall