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November 2009 Archives

November 2, 2009

The Good We Do: Ina Popova

To commemorate the first annual Pro Bono Week (October 25-31), the New York State Bar Association has launched a new campaign called The Good We Do to recognize the significant contributions made by the scores of attorneys across the state who donate their time, services and expertise to meet the ever-growing legal needs of low-income people and others who have been hard hit by the economic downturn. Among the attorneys being singled out by the Association is Ina Popova of New York City.

As a first-year associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Ms. Popova routinely reviewed the firm’s pro bono case list, and was immediately struck by the case of the Bedford family. For more than 18 years, Hazel Bedford and her family had been residents of an apartment owned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). NYCHA, however, terminated Ms. Bedford’s lease on various grounds, including non-desirability based in part on allegations relating to a child who no longer lived in the apartment, and ordered her family to vacate.

In her first professional court appearance as an advocate, Ms. Popova won a temporary restraining order that prevented NYCHA from evicting the family. She also filed papers seeking the annulment of the lease termination and successfully obtained an order to show cause against NYCHA. After oral argument on the merits, the Bedford case was settled favorably in September 2008.

Ms. Bedford had just received the eviction notice and had counted days to vacate when she first met Ms. Popova. “I said to myself, ‘This had better work out.’ It turned out to be a blessing,” said Ms. Bedford.

“This was an interesting and challenging case from a legal standpoint and an amazing experience for a first-year associate,” said Ms. Popova, whose litigation practice at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP focuses on international arbitration and general commercial disputes. “I am excited to have been able to make a tangible difference for this family,” she added.

Working with the Bronx Defenders on Ms. Bedford’s behalf, Ms. Popova acquired valuable advocacy experience and a sharper focus for her mission as a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. “I learned a great deal from the professionalism of the Bronx Defenders team. I am extremely grateful for their support and for the invaluable advice I received from others here at Debevoise,” she said. Since the Bedford case, Ms. Popova has done extensive pro bono work, including other housing cases and asylum matters, and has also advised non-governmental organizations and foreign countries in international issues.

New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City), said, “Increasingly, more and more New Yorkers and worthy non-profit organizations are finding it harder to keep their heads above water as they try to navigate our legal system. Whether in housing disputes, immigration matters, or child custody issues, every New Yorker should have equal access to justice. The State Bar is proud to salute attorneys, like Ina Popova, who truly live the words, and justice for all.”

Ms. Popova is a graduate of Cambridge University, the Université de Paris II and Harvard Law School.

November 10, 2009

The Good We Do: Toni Nichels

To commemorate the first annual Pro Bono Week (October 25-31), the New York State Bar Association has launched a new campaign called The Good We Do to recognize the significant contributions made by the scores of attorneys across the state who donate their time, services and expertise to meet the ever-growing legal needs of low-income people and others who have been hard hit by the economic downturn. Among the attorneys being singled out by the Association is Toni Anne Nichels of Yorktown Heights.

A fulltime attorney at the Xerox Corporation where she serves as Employment and HR Counsel and Pro Bono Coordinator, Nichels provides free legal services to help non-profits in the lower Hudson Valley. Even as the recession begins to loosen its grip, non-profit organizations still face difficult challenges to stay open and provide essential services while coping with reduced staff and diminishing resources.

Among the non-profits that have benefitted from Nichel’s volunteer work is the Ossining Children’s Center that has provided high-quality child care for more than 100 years to children of working parents regardless of their ability to pay. According to Howard Milbert, executive director of the Center, in reviewing the organization’s new personnel policies, Nichels was meticulous about attention to detail.

Milbert said, “Aside from making sure that we were in compliance with the law, Toni took the time and effort to understand our unique needs and concerns. The clarity of our new personnel policies has made us more efficient, so we can focus on doing what we do best – nurturing and teaching children. We owe Toni a deep debt of gratitude.”

“I have always been dedicated to the mission of pro bono. One person can have a huge impact on an organization, allowing them to fulfill their own mission,” said Nichels. “Doing pro bono service has been an interesting and rewarding experience. It’s a terrific feeling.”

A volunteer from an early age, Nichels became an attorney, deciding that it was a “great way to help people.” Upon attending a Continuing Legal Education program on pro bono services in 2001, Nichels became a volunteer with the Pro Bono Partnership in White Plains, which provides business legal assistance to non-profit organizations. She has handled more than 90 pro bono matters since joining the Partnership.

New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City), said, “Increasingly, more and more New Yorkers and worthy non-profit organizations, are finding it harder to keep their heads above water as they try to navigate our legal system. Whether in foreclosure cases, immigration matters, or child custody issues, every New Yorker should have equal access to justice. The State Bar is proud to salute attorneys, like Toni Nichels, who truly live the words, and justice for all.”
One of her most frequent pro bono clients is the Jewish Council of Yonkers (JCY) -Westchester Community Partners which develops intergenerational programs to meet the needs of the community – young and old. Nichels began her involvement with JCY by reviewing personnel policies. Over time, she has become an unofficial “in-house counsel” providing the JCY with her expertise on benefits packages, separation agreements and vacation policies.
“A small not-for-profit organization such as ours could never afford support such as we received from Toni,” said Janice Lubin Kirschner, executive director of the JCY. “Toni is so knowledgeable, easy to work with, very prompt, thorough, professional and available. She has been fabulous.”

A graduate of University of Notre Dame Law School, Nichels is the 2003 recipient of the American Bar Association Business Law Section’s Outstanding Nonprofit Attorney - Outstanding Young Attorney Award. Within the New York State Bar, she is a member of the Labor and Employment Section and a past member of the Committee on Women in the Law.

November 16, 2009

The Good We Do: Commitee on Animals and the Law

To commemorate the first annual Pro Bono Week (October 25-31), the New York State Bar Association has launched a new campaign called The Good We Do to recognize the significant contributions made by the scores of attorneys across the state who donate their time, services and expertise to help others in need. Among the attorneys being singled out by the Association are the members of the Association’s Animals and the Law Committee.

The committee is marking National Pro Bono Week and World Animal Week by making available its authoritative animal law-related resources to members of the public and to the legal profession. These educational and informational materials are now available online at http://www.nysba.org/animalweek.

"These helpful and wide-ranging educational tools are the result of the dedicated efforts of the committee’s members to make a difference for animals and people," said Committee Chair James F. Gesualdi of Islip. “We are extremely pleased to provide this information as part of our contribution to Animal Week and to National Pro Bono Week.”

The committee is pleased to offer the following Animal Law-related resources:

Lesson plans and educational materials relating to Abraham Lincoln, Animals and Animal Law
Humane Education Law Information Notice to schools, parents and students about the requirements of New York State Law
Tips on what to do if you find an animal in an abandoned home or apartment and what to do with your pet if you lose your home
Testimony: The State’s comprehensive disaster preparedness must encompass plans for household pets, livestock and other animals
Patient Pet Care Program (voluntary program that ensures the pets of hospitalized patients will be given proper care)
“Teen Animal Cruelty: Legal Issues and Practical Solutions” program materials and video replay featuring several noted speakers
Animal Law in New York pamphlet
Laws & Paws Newsletter

This comprehensive list of materials and online resources builds upon the spirit of the First Annual “Week for the Animals” in New York State, which, as Governor David A. Paterson noted in a related Proclamation, “helps raise awareness of the uniquely special and valuable place animals have in our lives.” These materials and the ongoing efforts of the committee and its members also serve to elevate the highest traditions of the profession to serve people in need and the animals that are an important part of their lives.

The Committee on Animals and the Law was established to provide an information resource for the Association’s members and the public about non-human, animal-related humane issues which arise from and have an effect upon our legal system.

About November 2009

This page contains all entries posted to The Good We Do in November 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.