Finding resilience and making a difference

Bhavani Raveendran has long dark hair and poses smiling in a white blazer.

Alumni spotlight with Bhavani Raveendran (CWR ‘09)

In 2021 alone, civil rights lawyer Bhavani Raveendran (CWR ‘09) became a partner at the Chicago law firm where she has worked since 2015, Romanucci & Blandin LLC; was honored alongside her team with the American Association for Justice’s 2021 Leonard Weinglass in Defense of Civil Liberties Award for the impact of their work representing the family of George Floyd; and was recognized in the 2022 edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.

We caught up with the Windy City native to hear about her recent successes and how her time at Case Western Reserve University shaped her life.

What attracted you to Case Western Reserve University?

I have family members who attended and taught at Case Western Reserve University. We visited them a lot for holidays when I was a kid, so I have always associated Cleveland—and CWRU—with family.

I was looking for just the right size of school, and the political science program was very attractive, especially with the small faculty-to-student ratio and international outlook. Case Western Reserve is known as being a science and engineering school, but when I visited, it was clear that they treated other areas of study with equal importance. 

It was also refreshing that CWRU prioritized finding students with character and different perspectives, no matter their background. It was clear from the very start in the accessibility of the application and the sense of belonging we experienced. There was something for everyone. 

A young Bhavani and Manu stand side-by-side, smiling brightly at the camera, Manu wearing a bright pink and black striped tie and Bhavani wearing long blue earrings.
What are some highlights from your time on campus?

The faculty members were incredible, and a few of my instructors even became mentors, especially my SAGES Professor Margret-Mary Daley and Political Science Professor Kelly McMann. The professors taught me to think creatively and critically to figure out how to work on issues I cared about in my own way. Overall, I really loved the intensity of the political science program; I was challenged but had enough space to take fun classes like theater, marketing and anthropology.

And a personal highlight: I met my husband—Manu Srivastava (CWR ‘09) (pictured at left)—on the sidewalk outside of Leutner Dining Hall.

Tell us about your experience working with George Floyd’s family in the historic civil lawsuit earlier this year.

It was overwhelming and incredibly rewarding. I was on a team of lawyers representing the Floyd family in the civil lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death. The resulting $27 million settlement—which occurred before Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial began—made history as one of the largest pre-trial settlements in a civil rights wrongful death case. It was an important result stemming from a tragic and unnecessary use of force, that hopefully serves to remind us of the undeniable value of a beloved son, brother and friend’s life. 

George Floyd’s family was as generous and kind as they were determined and courageous while seeking justice for their loved one. It affirmed my passion for helping others through practicing law, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it was the honor of our lives to work on behalf of this family.

How does it feel to be a partner at Romanucci & Blandin?

I’m proud to be a partner at R&B. Civil rights law is so valuable to the protection of our constitutional rights, and even though our cases are not always guaranteed wins, the founding partners have stayed the course over the years because it’s the right thing to do. We’re able to work on behalf of many individuals who might not otherwise have access to legal support, and whose voices need to be heard.

Being a civil rights lawyer in the current climate can be difficult, but our team has found resilience in each other, and a reminder that every case can make a change—whether big or small.

Bhavani and friends Mariam and Asha pose smiling in brightly colored saris
What do you do when you’re not working?

I love spending time with my family and friends, exploring Chicago and finding the best sandwich. I volunteer at my temple, work with the American Association of Justice and try to stay politically engaged, like signing up to be a poll watcher.

A dozen years after graduating, my husband and I keep in touch with our close friends from CWRU, and I can’t miss this opportunity to mention my dear friends and fellow Clarke Tower alumni: Mariam Khan (CWR ‘10) and Asha Talati, MD (CWR ‘10, MED ‘13) (pictured at right).