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SEPT 15, 2021 Vidhya Prabhakaran, chair of the energy practice group at Davis Wright Tremaine, has dedicated himself to creating systemic change—both with respect to addressing the world's climate emergency and building greater opportunity for the South Asian community. His untiring efforts have been recognized by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), which honored him with its 2021 "Best Under 40" Award.

"Vid has been a leader within our firm for so long that it's easy to forget that he's still a rising star," said Scott MacCormack, managing partner at Davis Wright Tremaine. "We're delighted to see him earn accolades for his remarkable record of service to clients and community. We can't wait to see what he does next."

Based in San Francisco, Prabhakaran is widely recognized as one of the leading lawyers in the country's most dynamic energy market. Best Lawyers recently named him Energy Regulatory Lawyer of the Year in Northern California.

He regularly advocates on behalf of clients who envision an efficient and reliable energy marketplace and seek to successfully invest in the reduction of greenhouse gases. His practice includes counseling clients through regulatory approvals; utility rate and certificate proceedings; acquisitions and dispositions of regulated assets; energy-related contracts; project finance; energy-related dispute resolution; and energy litigation.

Prabhakaran has played a prominent role in every recent, high-profile regulatory proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission focused on energy procurement, reliability, and ratemaking. His extensive work representing clients before regulatory bodies has enabled him to successfully assist clients in the regulated transportation, telecommunications, and water sectors as well.

Prabhakaran is also well known as an unflagging leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues—within Davis Wright Tremaine, across the legal industry, and in society at large.

As a practice group leader and as the primary relationship manager for several of the firm’s largest clients, Prabhakaran uses his influence to help build a DEI culture at Davis Wright. He cultivates deep relationships with the firm's attorneys of color and influences institutional change on their behalf. Many of his suggestions have been incorporated into the firm’s strategic plan and he is regularly sought out for high-value, sensitive initiatives, such as liaising with the firm’s diverse associates on how the firm can improve retention. He is widely recognized for his own dedication to mentorship and sponsorship.

Prabhakaran has personally contributed to and participated in numerous pipeline programs as part of his commitment to expanding inclusion in the legal profession. These efforts have included serving as co-chair of the Equality Committee at the Bar Association of San Francisco.

As a junior attorney, Prabhakaran led the establishment of a judicial vetting committee for the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (a NAPABA affiliate) to assist South Asian candidates through the appointment process. This was critical to ensuring that South Asian judges, previously a rarity, are now found on the bench in Northern California.

Prabhakaran actively supports the broader APA community through pro bono work and board service. In partnership with organizations such as Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, the Tahirih Justice Center, and Legal Services for Children, he has assisted numerous API clients with T and U visas, helping them gain permanent residence in the United States. Most recently, he began representing the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, helping to ensure preservation of an important landmark in the country's history of discriminatory immigration policies.

Prabhakaran has also served as board treasurer for South Asian Americans Leading Together, which administers leadership development programs and works on immigrant rights and racial justice issues, and as board president of the Kearny Street Workshop, the country's oldest, Asian-American, interdisciplinary arts organization.

The NAPABA "Best Under 40" award shines a spotlight on individuals within the Asian American Pacific Islander legal community who have achieved prominence and distinction in their legal practice, academia, business, civic and charitable activities, the judiciary, or politics, and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Asian American Pacific Islander civic or community affairs.

Prabhakaran is the third Davis Wright Tremaine lawyer to win the recognition. Maya Yamazaki was honored last year and Ken Payson was honored in 2002.

This year's nine outstanding honorees will be celebrated at NAPABA's annual convention in December.

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