5 Questions for Chris Popov, AYLA President-Elect

There are at least 50 organizations for Austin professionals, and most of them include service and philanthropy as part of their missions. All together, these organizations give away thousands – and maybe millions – of dollars of services, donations, gifts, and in-kind items to the Central Texas community. Where would we be without them?

Austin Young Lawyers Association has been around for almost 50 years, and hundreds of Austin lawyers, judges, mayors, congressmen, board members, and philanthropists have been a member at one time or another. Today AYLA is more than 850-strong, and its members are the people to watch in this town. Chances are, they’re the ones who are going to take this city into its future.

We spoke to AYLA President-Elect, Chris Popov, a commercial litigation attorney with Vinson & Elkins and AYLA member since 2002. (Full disclosure, I was the communications director for AYLA and the Austin Bar Association, which is where I first met Chris and witnessed first-hand his energy, optimism, and intelligence.)

1. AYLA board members get to move up through the ranks on their way to the president spot, which means you’ve probably been involved in lots of fundraising and service projects that benefit the community. Which have been your favorites and why?

I have always been particularly proud of the Holiday Baskets program. In some ways, it’s very much like a Christmas gift basket program that many organizations put on. But the AYLA focuses on families who are currently working with Volunteer Legal Services and other non-profit legal organizations to help get their lives back on track. These folks are in stressful, and financially challenged situations. The profession is already helping them through their legal problems, but the AYLA adds to that charity by sending lawyers to their door with gifts that they never asked for and never expected.

The thank you letters that we receive from the donees regularly confirm my hunch that these people are left with a feeling of gratitude, and at least a subtle understanding of how the legal profession is different from other trades.

2. What are some of the biggest needs in Austin right now that you think AYLA members can address?

Austin, like most large urban areas, has a limitless number of needs, and I am not sure that I am qualified to say which are the biggest. I think AYLA should continue primarily to focus its charitable efforts on projects that affect the legal community, and on areas in which our members’ expertise can be best utilized.

3. Do you think you would be as involved in philanthropy if you weren’t a member of AYLA or another professional association? Why or why not?

More with Chris Popov, next page …

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