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Roman Lebedinskiy 2011
A legal career was not on Roman Lebedinskiy’s mind when he graduated high school. In fact, like many young people, Roman was unsure what he wanted to do or where he wanted to go. So, he joined the United States Air Force, where he spent the next four years as an aircrew intelligence instructor.
“I was one of those kids who wasn’t on the right track,” says Roman. “Not that I was a bad kid; I just didn’t understand what I wanted to do with my life. It was just me and my mom and she couldn’t afford to send me to college.” He took advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill, which, he says, “put me on the right track.”
Roman’s track led him to Pace Law School, where he participated in the Family Court Legal Program, representing battered women in family court, and the Criminal Justice Clinic. Both experiences were “very hands-on,” conducting interviews, serving subpoenas, drafting motions, and going before a judge. The result? His sights now have turned to a career in criminal justice defense.
“I always saw things from the side of law enforcement,” he says, “that if you got in trouble it was because you did something wrong. But now I see that a lot of people involved are innocent and so a criminal defense career will have a satisfying pay-off.”
In the Criminal Justice Clinic he represented clients in trespass, assault, and criminal mischief cases. It was an experience he calls “very intense” – where you read the law, learn the fundamentals, and then “go out and get the job done.”
“You are always anxious about it,” says Roman. “At arraignments, our client is usually brought out in handcuffs. You stand before the judge, the prosecutor rattles away his accusations, you have five minutes to present the case, and then the judge decides whether your client will stay in jail for the remainder of the case. It’s very fast paced.”
His experiences at Pace have brought a new level of insight that informs Roman’s perspective on the law, the system, himself, and human nature. “Before I was focused on building a career, but I now understand the importance of pro bono work. There areindigent clients out there who can’t afford a lawyerand they still deserve the proper representation. I amvery open to helping people now. It’s very rewarding, emotionally.”