Small Claims: An Attorney's Journey to Seek Justice and Redemption in a Soup Kitchen Legal Clinic Every Friday afternoon for 18 years, upstate New York attorney Steve Gottlieb set up a sandwich-board sign in front of the Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church soup kitchen that proclaimed "Free Legal Clinic Today." He then joined the attendees for lunch and afterward spent time assisting folks with various legal issues. Over the years, Steve helped hundreds of needy families, including the disabled and the elderly, with problems involving public assistance, food stamps, health care, and threats of eviction. A few years ago, Steve decided to keep track of his Friday clients to see if his presence and intervention actually made a difference in their lives and, if so, what was the impact?Steve's clients' stories are sometimes tragic and at other times hopeful, but they will still leave a powerful impression on the reader, who gains an insight into how poverty can strip a person of their home, their dignity, and their future. Small Claims tells the story of how one attorney can affect the lives of the poor by doing what is reasonably doable: writing a letter, making a phone call, filling out disability forms, or sometimes just listening to the stories of those who struggle every day simply to make it to the next.
About the Author
Attorney Steve Gottlieb specializes in landlord-tenant proceedings, bankruptcy, and civil rights law. He also operates a free weekly community legal clinic at local soup kitchens and homeless shelters in Ulster County, New York.Since starting his law career at Bronx Legal Services in 1990, where he represented tenants threatened with eviction, he has been passionate about protecting tenants' rights to a safe, clean habitation. He has successfully taken on numerous pro bono cases in Ulster County related to issues of eviction and substandard housing. Originally from Queens, Steve came to the Catskills in 1970 to attend college. He dropped out to write and perform puppet shows and stage plays, performing as a Punch & Judy puppeteer for more than 20 years. Tired of scrounging a living in "artist's mode," he went back to college and earned a BA degree in Sociology and Elementary Education. From there he then went on and taught first grade in the South Bronx while at night completing a law degree at Pace University. For his work as a first-grade teacher, he received several awards, including the Reader's Digest American Hero in Education Award and the Law-Related Educator of the Year from the American Bar Auxiliary. He has a solid rep as accessible to all--but beware Wednesday evenings, when it's close to a sure bet that Steve and his motley crew of fellow avid poker players will be deep into the cards (all legal, of course). Steve lives in Woodstock, New York, with his wife, Ricki, and their fantastic feline, Ringo.