October is Pro Bono Month, and the Massachusetts Bar Association is proud to shine a spotlight on MBA members who voluntarily participate in MBA-affiliated public and community service programs. This week in eJournal we’re featuring attorney Anna Baitchenko, an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, who has been volunteering with Massachusetts Legal Answers Online since 2019.
ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS LEGAL ANSWERS ONLINE: The Massachusetts Bar Association is a participant in Mass Legal Answers Online, an online legal advice website (www.masslao.org) that is part of the American Bar Association's Free Legal Answers project. Volunteer attorneys answer questions posed by eligible Massachusetts residents. The volunteers choose the questions they want to answer — when, where and how it's most convenient. There is also no required time commitment, although volunteers are encouraged to answer at least one question a month. As a volunteer opportunity, it is open to all attorneys in good standing who are licensed to practice law in Massachusetts or registered for pro bono status with the Board of Bar Overseers. Malpractice coverage is provided to volunteer attorneys for legal guidance provided through the website. To volunteer, click here.
MEET ANNA BAITCHENKOQ. Why did you decide to participate in MLAO?Anna:
Hunton is extremely supportive of attorneys who want to participate in pro bono activities, and since joining the firm, I have tried to take advantage of as many pro bono opportunities as I can. I was attracted initially to MLAO because of the ease of use and flexibility of the program, which has become particularly useful during the pandemic. Moreover, because of the breadth of practice areas covered by the questions submitted by users, I can select questions that interest me as well as complement my practice and other pro bono work. Q. What is the time commitment for this program?Anna:
There is no set time commitment for participating in MLAO. Each volunteer can select to answer as many or as few legal questions as he or she chooses. Furthermore, while some users submit follow-up questions, there is no expectation for long-term representation. Q. What type of questions have you answered?Anna:
I have answered questions concerning a variety of topics: landlord-tenant disputes, employment discrimination claims, parental rights, child support and child custody disputes, and domestic violence cases.Q. How has your experience participating with this program changed during the pandemic?Anna:
The pandemic has been a particularly great time to get involved with MLAO. During this time of uncertainty, there has been a significant influx in questions from users seeking guidance relating to COVID’s impact on various legal issues arising from — among other things — landlord-tenant disputes, domestic violence cases and wrongful termination claims. Because of MLAO’s online platform, participating in this program has allowed me to give helpful, practical advice to users quickly, discretely, and without having to worry about the current restrictions and limitations associated with in-person consultations.
Q. Would you recommend volunteering with MLAO to others?Anna:
I would highly recommend participating in MLAO. This program affords its volunteer attorneys great flexibility to volunteer whenever it is convenient and permits attorneys to select questions and issues that appeal to them. MLAO makes it easy for attorneys to integrate pro bono seamlessly into their busy schedules while helping those who seek guidance with their legal issues.Q. Do you volunteer with any other MBA programs or organizations outside the legal community?Anna:
During the last few years, I have volunteered regularly at the Civil Appeals Clinic at the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Volunteer attorneys at the clinic assist low-income individuals with the appellate process in a variety of civil cases.Q. In what areas of law do you practice?Anna:
Corporate and securities litigation, and commercial litigation. (Admitted in Massachusetts and Connecticut.)Q. What’s one thing people might not know about you?Anna:
I was born in Russia and immigrated with my family to the United States when I was a child.