Minutes of AARSA



March 22, 2007,  5:30 p.m.
Meeting was held at HIAS

30 people were present:

Alex Shapiro, Alex Pirogovsky, Ilya Parnas, Max Fuchs, Steven Shakhnevich, Vladimir Matsiborchuk, Oscar Starker, Mark Katsman, Alec Sauchik, Oleg Kaplun, Natalie Brenboim, Tatiana Pahman, Gary Light, Anna Korolyova, Ilya Kleynerman, Boris Palant, Igor Dodin, Alex Roytblat, Andrey Tikhomirov, Diana Zborovsky, Gabriella Zborovsky, Julie Glasser, Alexey Bakman, Oksana Sokolova, Ilya Novofastovky, Natalia Gouran, Julia Bikbova, Victoria Friedman, Gene Meltser, Gene Borsch.

Opening statement by Gary Light 10 minutes
- History of creation of AARSA
- Founding fathers
- Chapters of AARSA discussion

Igor Dodin
Introduction to the meeting
Each member/group introduces himself/herself to present members name/school

Boris Palant
Overview – came to USA 30 years ago 3/22/1977
Talked about creation of AARSA
Many members left, but many joined
Sasha Lewis left, but Ilya Novafastovsky joined

CLE credits – not so good response from members of AARSA
AARSA has a page in Newspaper but no one can write Russian
Failure of e-mail – yahoo group

“I have a dream that Ilya Novofastovsky has a plan.”
                                                            Boris Palant

Alex Pirogovsky briefly spoke about Midwest. Gary Light joined him for international outlook.

Mark Katsman (Miami South East 20 lawyers Russian speaking)
Two weeks ago Southeast was created
Primary goals: CLE, Real Estate and Elder Law matter development by Southeast AARSA. Getting all 20 Russian speaking lawyers to join AARSA.


Ilya Novafastovsky spoke about 4 Bs

  1. Business – practice groups (channel referral)
  2. Buddies –
  3. Battles  - voting ballots in Russian
  4. Benefit


Proposed law suite against Oceana Development based on ADA claim

Julia Bikbova – initiation of John Marshal Law School presentation of Abuse of Legal Process.

Pavel Ilyev  an attorney for Khadarkovsky from Moscow spoke briefly about his colleagues serving time in Russia for defense work for Mr. Khadarkovsky.



Board after Elections


  • Boris Palant – president
  • Ilya Novafastovsky – vice president
  • Igor Dodin – treasurer
  • Alex Roytblat – secretary
  • Alex Pirogovsky (Chicago)
  • Gary Light (Chicago)
  • Dmitry Dubograev (Washington)
  • Mark Katsman (Florida)
  • Boris Gorbis (Los Angeles)



July 20, 2006,  6 p.m.
Law Offices of  Boris Palant, 299 Broadway, Suite 605, New York, NY
Boris Palant, Vladimir Goldstern, Igor Dodin, and Serge Ravitch attended in person; Gary Light, Gary Light, Alex Pirogovsky, and Alexandra Lewis attended by telephone.


  1. Alex Pirogovsky reported about AARSA-Midwest, stating that he met with an Iowa attorney, and has plans to discuss AARSA with attorneys in Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Detroit, among others.  Gary Light will continue mentioning the association on his weekly radio show.  According to Alex, the Midwest chapter currently has about 30 to 40 members.  Getting their website up and running is their current priority.  Alexandra Lewis suggested that their website either be modeled on
  2. Boris  Palant and Alex Pirogovsky discussed a request from a Philadelphia attorney, Sergei Bespalov, that Mr. Bespalov be granted a mandate to start the Philadelphia chapter as an AARSA VP.  It was decided that Boris  Palant would send a letter to Mr. Bespalov, encouraging him to gather Philadelphia-area Russian-speaking attorneys and introducing them to AARSA, much like Gary Light and Alex Pirogovsky had done in Chicago.  That way, those attorneys can then join AARSA, elect their president, etc.
  3. Boris  Palant and Serge Ravitch reported that they mailed our tax-exempt-status application to the IRS last week!
  4. Bylaws, previously distributed to the directors on June 20th were unanimously adopted.
  5. Igor Dodin reported that he had (as previously stated and long ago) mailed out our press releases to all of the requested state and local agencies, District Attorneys’ offices, etc. . .  AARSA’a address on the press releases was c/o Law Offices of Boris Palant, and no responses have been received yet.
  6. The Board discussed our upcoming July 25th CLE program at the Brooklyn District Attorneys’ office. The program is for AARSA members, free, and offers 2 CLE credits.  Alexandra Lewis will send a reminder email to paid AARSA members, encouraging them to attend this event.
  7. The Board discussed the importance of all members joining the Yahoo discussion group, rather than sending out emails with too many recipients, as the later methods creates too high a risk for spam or blocked-sender status.  Directors agreed to encourage others to join the discussion group.
  8. Boris  Palant informed the Board that Irina Matiychenko of New York Legal Assistance Group has filed a class action in the NY District Court for the Eastern District on June 28, 2006, on behalf of individuals who have passed their naturalization examinations but are still awaiting an appointment to take the oath—the delay of this last step potentially threatens cut-off of much-needed social benefits, including SSI.  Boris  Palant will send around a copy of the complaint to the Board.  We should all review it, and see whether we should assist, either by filing an amicus brief on behalf of AARSA, or in assisting NYLAG in preparing an amended complaint.  On this issue, Boris  Palant reported about his meeting on July 8th, attended by almost 200 individuals concerned about the issue, approximately 100 of whom have joined the NYLAG complaint.  There were approximately five Bronx residents who, by virtue of being non-Brooklyn residents, are outside of the NYLAG complaint, and thus need individual representation.  Perhaps Tatyana Pahman can follow up on this.  Alexandra Lewis has agreed to find out the filing requirements for SDNY if we were to file a similar complaint with the Immigration section.
  9. The Board then discussed  issues of non-attorneys advertising for either legal services, or advertising and promoting themselves in a manner that maliciously undermines the credibility of Russian-speaking attorneys.  Boris Palant will draft a proposed advertisement for Russian-language newspaper to educate the readers, and will circulate the draft to the Board.
  10. On a related topic, Alex Pirogovsky discussed an initiative on integrity in attorney advertising, headed up by an attorney at Arent Fox in New York.  Vladimir Goldstern has agreed to contact her to find out whether and how AARSA may help in these efforts.

The meeting was adjourned at 7: 05 p.m.


July 20, 2006,  6 p.m.
Law Offices of  Boris Palant, 299 Broadway, Suite 605, New York, NY
Boris Palant, Vladimir Goldstern, Tatiana Pahman, Igor Dodin, and Serge Ravitch attended in person; Gary Light, Dmitriy Dubograev, Marina Kirshenbaum, and Alexandra Lewis attended by telephone


  1. Boris  Palant discussed his meeting with RAMBA and launch of the AARSA chapter in Chicago.  In Chicago, Alexei Pirogovskiy was elected as that chapter’s  President.
  2. Gary Light was unanimously elected as AARSA Vice-President in Charge Of International Affairs.
  3. Two additions to the bylaws were suggested and agreed to before they can be finalized:
    1. Board of Directors was extended to 15 members, such that Presidents of the AARSA’s regional offices (e.g., Chicago, Florida, California) automatically become AARSA Board members, and
    2. AARSA’s general meetings will be held every three months, instead of every month, as previously suggested.
  1. Discussed the IRS tax-exempt filing. Serge Ravitch will work on the final package, with the goal of June 22, 2006 deadline.
  2. Two committees were formed: Corporate and Immigration.  Dmitriy Dubograev will start Yahoo conferences on corporate law.  Vladimir Goldstern offered to inform immigration committee’s members of the new developments in immigration law. Tatiana Pahman offered to meet with immigration officials.
  3. Discussed reimbursement of AARSA  members.  It was unanimously decided that Boris Palant would be reimbursed for his airline ticket to attend the inaugural meeting of the Chicago chapter in the sum of $400.00 (four hundred dollars), and Igor Dodin would be reimbursed for creation of the web site in the sum of $500.00 (five hundred dollars).  Going forward, expenses in excess of $50.00 should be authorized in advance.
  4. We have opportunity to write questions and answers in the newspaper “Russian Bazaar.”  Tatiana Pahman led columns in the last issue.  We should all participate by rotation.  Discussed obtaining free time on Radio and TV for AARSA members.
  5. Discussed future cooperation with HIAS in their election projects and AARSA-HIAS cooperation in future CLE classes.
  6. Discussed the feasibility of applying for Federal and State grants.  Marina Kirshenbaum and Tatiana Pahman will contact a person who is knowledgeable on this issue to provide a consultation on our options and choices, including HIAS and LOREO grants.
    The meeting was adjourned at 7: 30 p.m.


May 18, 2006,  6:30 p.m.
Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, 7802 Bay Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

The following members of the Board of Directors of AARSA were present:

Boris Palant, Vladimir Goldstern, Tatiana Pahman, Igor Dodin, Marina Kirshenbaum, and Inna Fershteyn


  1. Introductory remarks by Boris Palant. Boris summarized the progress and development of AARSA since inception, such as an expansion of the membership pool; recognition of AARSA in the media, and the launch of AARSA chapter in Chicago. Boris also discussed future initiatives, such as establishing CLE programs and creating a newsletter or another printed media source for AARSA.
  1. Introduction of Alex Budnitskiy by Inna Fershteyn. Alex discussed various programs available at the Jewish Community House (“JCH”), such as a summer camp for children, an internship program for teenagers, the initiatives of JCH in Russia and Ukraine, and the opportunities for cooperation of JCH and AARSA.
  1. Inna Fershteyn discussed a planned joint venture with JCH -- “Ask a Lawyer,” where interested attorneys would give lectures on particular subject of law for JCH members. The lectures would be promoted and advertised by the JCH. Each lecture would last for approximately 2 hours, including 1 hour for presentation and 1 hour for questions.  
  1. Boris Palant introduced Vladimir Goldstern, a member of the AARSA Board of Directors and an immigration attorney. Vladimir discussed giving interviews on behalf of AARSA. He suggested that when giving interviews, the members should note that the views expressed by such members are their own opinions and not those of AARSA, unless the opinions conveyed by such members are consistent with the general position of AASA on a given subject.
  1. Inna Fershteyn discussed forming various chapters of AASA according to practice areas of its members, such as corporate, immigration, family law, etc. Svetlana Milina volunteered to lead the corporate and business chapter. Tatiana Pahman volunteered to lead the immigration chapter.
  1. Igor Dodin discussed forming various committees of AARSA, such as membership committee, finance committee, etc. The committees are listed on the questionnaire for the members. The members agreed to consider on which committees they should serve.
  1. Boris Palant made closing remarks.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.


Minutes of AARSA Board of Directors Meeting

April 24, 2006,  6 p.m.
Law Offices of  Boris Palant, 299 Broadway, Suite 605, New York, NY
Boris Palant, Vladimir Goldstern, Alexandra Lewis, Tatiana Pahman, Igor Dodin, and Serge Ravitch were present in person, and Gary Light, Boris Gorbis, Marina Kirshenbaum, and Inna Fershteyn participated by telephone.


  1. Membership dues were collected from Board members. Currently, the funds are being used to support the upcoming IRS filing, the web site, member meetings, and future advertising.  Any CLEs would have to be coordinated with established CLE providers, such as large firms or NGOs.
  1. Directors discussed the mission of AARSA. In addition to that stated in the Certificate of Incorporation (available on the website at www.aarsa.org), our short-term goals as an organization are to: 
    • Inform the community about AARSA. 
    • Facilitate meetings with other Russian-speaking attorneys
  1. Discussion of Bylaws. The following changes were discussed:
    • Article IV- 4.2(a) requirement that all members ”Share the cultural and social values common to those who were born on the territory of the former Soviet Union” was dropped, as the requirement that all members be “fluent in spoken and/or written Russian” is sufficient.
    • The Board was left at eleven members going forward
    • Article VII, Section 7.16 was adopted, allowing for action by unanimous written consent in lieu of meeting; Section 7.17 was adopted, allowing for telephonic meetings
    • Individual committee would not be listed in the bylaws, and instead, the Board may create committees by a simple vote
    • Article 14.3 was changed, so that presence of seven out of eleven Board members is necessary for quorum
    • Article XIV—quorum percentage necessary for member action, as well as for bylaw amendments was discussed, and deferred. [Action: Vladimir Goldstern will report with quorums used by other similar organizations]
    • The question of fees paid by members of regional offices of AARSA (California, Chicago, Washington, D.C.) remains open. [Action: Gary Light and Boris Gorbis will confer and present proposals]
    • Natalia Maksin has also suggested that IRS would require a conflicts-of-interest policy. [Action: Sasha Lewis will follow up with Natalia whether our proposed draft would satisfy the requirement]
    • The rest of the bylaws were provisionally adopted, and three issues remain outstand before the bylaws can be adopted.                    
  1. IRS filing—Serge Ravitch will coordinate with directors and AARSA members, including contacting Natalia Maksin for advice on the process. [Action: all Board members agreed to send Serge their home and office addresses for the filing.]
  1. Reviewed and approved both the English-language (prepared by Natalie Rosenberg) and the Russian version (by Boris Palant) of the press release.     [Action: Igor Dodin will send out the press releases, aided by Gary Light in Chicago].
  1. Website—Igor Dodin, who has the website passwords, will coordinate with a new IT person to update the current website to include the press releases, invitation to the next meeting, and draft bylaws. 
  1. Next general meeting will be scheduled for mid-May, hopefully in Brooklyn. [Action: Inna Firshteyn will contact the Bensonhurst Jewish Center about availability of a room large enough to accommodate the AARSA membership on a Tuesday or Thursday in mid-May]
  1. The Board discussed whether to advertise at this point.  [Action: Boris Palant would circulate a draft ad to the Board.]
  1. Sasha Lewis was elected as Vice President.  Tatiana Pahman remains as Secretary, Boris Palant as President.
    The meeting was adjourned at 8: 00 p.m.



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