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October 21, 2009

THE GOOD WE DO: NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES ATTORNEYS FOR PRO BONO SERVICE

New York City Attorney Donates Legal Services to Help Low-Income Families with Housing Cases

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.

Founded in 1876, the 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

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