Irina Matiychenko Receives New York County Lawyers’ Association Public Service Award

Irina, fifth from left, was joined at the event by (left to right) Kevin M. Cremin, director of litigation for disability and aging rights, MFY Legal Services; Mark Gombiner, staff attorney for Federal Defenders of New York Inc.; Celese L.M. Koeleveld, executive assistant corporation counsel for public safety, New York City Law Department; Felix Lopez, director of the legal services department, Gay Men's Health Crisis; Irina Matiychenko, director of the immigrant protection unit, New York Legal Assistance Group; Bonnie Sard, assistant Manhattan district attorney; and Betty E. Staton, president of Brooklyn program, Legal Services at NYC; special guest speaker Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.; NYCLA president Barbara Moses; Catherine Christian, public service awards committee chair.

Irina, fifth from left, was joined at the event by (left to right) Kevin M. Cremin, director of litigation for disability and aging rights, MFY Legal Services; Mark Gombiner, staff attorney for Federal Defenders of New York Inc.; Celese L.M. Koeleveld, executive assistant corporation counsel for public safety, New York City Law Department; Felix Lopez, director of the legal services department, Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Bonnie Sard, assistant Manhattan district attorney; and Betty E. Staton, president of Brooklyn program, Legal Services at NYC; special guest speaker Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.; NYCLA president Barbara Moses; Catherine Christian, public service awards committee chair.

Irina Matiychenko, Director of NYLAG’s Immigrant Protection Unit, has received a Public Service Award from the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) in recognition of her dedication to increasing access to justice for immigrants. Guided by her motto, “if you save one life, you save the world,” Matiychenko has personally handled or supervised over 22,700 cases in the course of her career at NYLAG.

Since 1990, the Public Service Awards have recognized public sector attorneys who have distinguished themselves as role models, innovators and problem solvers of complex legal issues. The 2013 Public Service Awards were presented on September 26th at the NYCLA offices in Manhattan, with special remarks given by New York County’s District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

“Irina’s relentless service and advocacy on behalf of New York’s low-income immigrant population has helped NYLAG become one of the largest immigrant services organizations in the state, handling more than 11,000 immigration matters for 10,686 clients last year alone,” said Yisroel Schulman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “For two decades, her compassion for her clients has inspired staff attorneys and volunteers alike to provide quality consultation, forceful advocacy and effective representation to those most in need of assistance.”

For over two decades, NYLAG has been providing New York’s low-income immigrant communities with comprehensive legal services through consultation and direct representation. The Unit assists individuals with services including naturalization, adjustment of status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) assistance, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self Petitions, U-visas for crime victims, asylum, removal defense, and public benefits and entitlements.

Irina Matiychenko is joined by staff from NYLAG's Immigrant Protection Unit following the event.

Irina Matiychenko is joined by staff from NYLAG’s Immigrant Protection Unit following the event.

Matiychenko, previously a criminal defense attorney in Russia, came to the U.S. in 1992 as a refugee. She joined NYLAG as a volunteer and paralegal before receiving her LL.M. from Fordham University School of Law, and become a staff attorney in 1995. In 1997, she became Coordinator of the new Immigration Project, and was named Director of the Immigrant Protection Unit in 1999.

Coverage of the event was featured in the New York Law Journal.