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Women Lawyers at Law: Volunteering as a Panacea

The Ukrainian Bar Association continues to share stories of women lawyers who, without leaving their legal work, felt that only joint efforts on all fronts could stop the war.

Daria Pysarenko, Deputy Executive Director, Tomorrow’s Lawyer NGO, UBA member


“From the first days of the war, together with a team of volunteers, we evacuated people from Irpen. After Irpin was unblocked we switched to the Chernihiv direction. My area of ​​responsibility was to collect and deliver what was needed by the military closer to the border. Special attention was paid to delivering humanitarian aid to the border villages of Chernihiv region, as they are all overcrowded with migrants from Chernihiv itself and these villages have survived a month-long occupation, while humanitarian aid has hardly reached the broken bridges. Today, all our attention is focused on helping the military in eastern Ukraine. We collect, buy, accumulate and then deliver. We pay special attention to hospitals.

In addition to the fundamental reason for accelerating our victory, I understand that volunteering has become a therapy for me that helps to overcome feelings of helplessness. Volunteering as complacency. You realize this only with time. There is no time to be angry, to scream in impotence, because sometimes you have to make possible the impossible and raise all resources for this: contacts, emotions, strength.

A special pleasure is to feel involved in the state, in society, to be in consolidation with fellow citizens. You can influence many processes. I feel that now we are all beginning to feel like “co-owners” of the state. These are the motivations that come to mind later.

If you have the opportunity to resume your work, become a taxpayer again, give jobs – please take this as a great chance to help the Armed Forces. Today, work is a privilege. And no one canceled the war of economies. Pay taxes that will support not only the Armed Forces, but also help IDPs, and if possible – help volunteers.

Women and girls who were forced to go abroad with or without children. I know how your heart hurts and how you’d prefer to be useful here – among volunteers, in the ranks of the Armed Forces to take that new howitzer and kill the Russian occupier (I want this, too). But remember, you are also on an important mission. you are educating the next generations, for whose freedom we are fighting for our land and freedom.”

Anna Kalinichenko, Senior Lawyer at Kinstellar, UBA member

Works as pro bono lawyer in the Warsaw office of DLA Piper International Law Firm

“As part of my work, I coordinate various pro bono projects. There are currently many initiatives related to Ukraine. For example, DLA Piper’s lawyers, located in different jurisdictions, have prepared references for citizens who have been forced to leave Ukraine. Citizens also have the opportunity to request personal inquiries, which will be processed by our lawyers. In addition, we are preparing events where lawyers will provide information to citizens about their rights and cover other important topics related to the country in which IDPs find themselves. Another recent initiative is to work with the UN Commission on Human Rights to provide advice to citizens who have been forced to leave Ukraine due to the war, directly at reception points.

On the one hand, it is an opportunity to help the country and the people affected by the war. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to work with interesting projects in an international environment and develop new skills. Also, for personal reasons, the location is very suitable for me, because I, like many others, was forced to leave Ukraine because of the war alone with a small child.

I am impressed by the number of people who want to help Ukraine. Almost every day I have conversations with individuals or organizations that are either already involved in some initiatives or want to join. This support and energy inspires, supports and reassures me that our victory is round the corner.”

Anna Kaminska, Founder of Anna Kaminska Business Consulting LLC, Arbitration Manager, Lawyer, UBA Member

Volunteer, philanthropist

“Before the war, I was engaged in a rather narrow field of law – crisis management. Of course, all my clients, including businesses and entrepreneurs remaining in Kharkiv suspended their work, and consequently all our work has been temporarily put on hold.

With the start of the war, I immediately began to look for opportunities on how and where to be useful for people who have settled in Ukraine, like me, and our military.

Currently, I am engaged in several activities in Dnipro.

I help my friend Oksana Venska in setting up a public organization that helps children and women who have lost their homes. We plan to restore the former sanatorium in the Carpathians and house there children with their mothers, who have nowhere else to go. This is a charitable activity that is built on the strength of volunteers and their own resources. My responsibilities are quite wide – from writing and translating letters of assistance, collecting donations and humanitarian work to managing social networks. For me, this activity is not new, because I have experience in working with a charitable foundation. However, at present, it is very difficult to find any funding for such a large project – the restoration of the entire property complex. Therefore, the project is developing at a slow but steady pace.

We also started a garment factory for the military. I found a shop in the Kharkiv region that needed orders, developed new models of products, we were able to buy quality fabric, and have already sewn the first large batch of military men’s T-shirts. Now I am engaged in their distribution, part of the T-shirts, of course, we gave to our military for free. The guys on the front line in Kharkiv region also need attention. We have also developed our own model of tactical belt and the result for the machine horn and are ready for mass production. I hope that in the future we will shift to the production of military footwear.

In addition, I provide free legal aid, continue to manage clients’ cases remotely (as the courts begin to operate), help volunteers raise funds, search for missing people, collect food for public kitchens in Kharkiv to receive humanitarian aid, medicine and more.

Three things prompted me to do this.

First, it is a great desire to be useful to people who are suffering from the negative effects of war. I felt the need to contribute to our Victory and to have a positive impact on the lives of all Ukrainians, and most of all, my native people from Kharkiv. For example, I received a photo from the Kharkiv military in our T-shirt with words of gratitude and that this thing is really cool and he liked it. This made me wish to do more, develop new activities and help.

Secondly, I was driven by a sense of responsibility. When the war broke out, almost everyone fell into a kind of psychological stupor. Each of us was faced with a choice – to grieve and feel helpless, or take their lives into their own hands. So with this activity I try to take responsibility for my life and the lives of my loved ones, especially those who depend directly on me, and this is my son and my mother.

And third, such terrible times of global crisis and the destruction of everything that existed before is an extraordinary opportunity to do what you never did, try to make your dreams come true, radically change your life and start anew with new ideas, people and new places. This is an opportunity to come up with non-standard solutions in difficult and risky situations. Since, for me personally, in the material sense, there is nothing to lose, the old life is destroyed and will never be the same again, even after the Victory of Ukraine, I have great inspiration to build a new present.

I want to note that everything we absorb from the outside remains in ourselves. So you need to fill yourself with light and good deeds. We are intelligent and educated people, so I try to stay that way during the war and after our Victory. And to treat people not selectively, but equally with love for everyone.”

Oleksandra Pavlenko, Senior Partner of Pavlenko Legal Group, UBA member

GR-volunteer in Greece

“I continue to be involved in GR activities in Greece. I decided to do the thing I know well. So when I arrived in Athens, I immediately contacted the Greek Parliament and Government. We managed to hold quite high-level talks with their Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discuss the possibility of supplying medicines and food, and voice some difficult issues that I had agreed in advance with the leadership of our country. As a result, medicines went to Ukraine as Greek state humanitarian aid. I feel that I can now contribute to exactly what I have been doing all my life – negotiations with the state. And the country no longer matters. It is important to know the essence of the matter. Of course, communication has also been established with the diplomatic service of Ukraine operating in Athens.

In addition, we worked together to help the Greek state television channel organize an interview with Volodymyr Zelensky. I am very grateful to my friends from the state corps who stay in Ukraine.

The fact is that the Greek population strongly supports Russian policy. Therefore, we are trying to change the information field and give an alternative vision. The interview with the President of Ukraine was of great importance.

I also met here an incredible Ukrainian couple – Oleksandr and Iryna Bortnyk, who organized a large-scale humanitarian mission “GreeceToUkraine”. It is a large humanitarian warehouse, a headquarters for any issues of our emigrants and a support for our Embassy and Consulate in Athens. My team and I lean our shoulders to all issues concerning GR needs for this mission.

Plus at this time I decided to renew the official registration for Pavlenko Legal Group as a lobbying organization with the European Commission. We have requests from Ukrainian business for GR activity in EU bodies. We need to change some European regulations to suit our situation. We are ready to do something as a charity. Of course, I would like to have something on a paid basis. But this is life – this way or another. Plus, for me personally, it is very important that I know how to move in the EU for such cases in favor of Ukrainian business. And when you know what to do – the movements become more confident.

Snizhana Romashkina, IT lawyer, UBA member

Volunteer in Poland

“It is a pity that only the war was able to show how beautiful, brave, good people we Ukrainians are.

Before the war I had a wonderful life in Kyiv, attended yoga classes, worked as an IT lawyer with classmates, wrote a dissertation on enforced disappearance (146 CCU) and never imagined that soon my topic would become not just relevant, but take on a completely different meaning.

At the beginning of the war, my sister and I managed to go to Poland “for a week” (we thought), but everything changed.

Polish shopping became different, and instead of girls’ clothes we bought walkie-talkies, sleeping bags, drones, thermal underwear and first aid kits. There was fear in the first days, but then there was no time to be afraid and confidence and determination. And when after a week of shopping you can distinguish between walkie-talkies, drones, binoculars and thermal imagers, you adapt to the new reality and act. “Do what you can best where you are” is a wonderful rule I learned a long time ago.

Motivation grows when you hear voices and read text messages from your classmates and acquaintances who protect all of us in Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Odesa, Kyiv, who do not have time to be afraid or cry and who need real help. When everything happens in such a rhythm, you realize how wonderful people around you – someone finds money, someone helps with transportation, and someone donates a drone with the phrase: “Give it to those who need it.”

Before the war I had no such volunteer experience. But I am glad that I was able to cope with my internal tsunami and do what really helps my country, my friends and acquaintances.

Each of us is now doing a small but super important thing that brings us closer to victory, each of us is a little superhero.”

The Ukrainian Bar Association expresses its sincere gratitude to all members of the legal community for their daily courage and dedication, for their steadfastness and decisive steps towards Ukraine’s victory in the war with Russia!

The first part of the stories about women lawyers in the war – follow the link.

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