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.