Mike Steinfeld’s commitment to social justice and his belief in “giving something back” led him to volunteer his services very early in his career. He began volunteering at the Redfern Legal Centre in 1977 where he volunteered for over 4 years. In 1984 he began his long association with Kingsford Legal Centre, volunteering on a fortnightly basis for an evening advice clinic for over 30 years! He is a big favourite of both staff and clients so we felt it was about time we put the spotlight on him.
Your commitment to KLC's clients is legendary- what keeps you coming back?
I have to admit that if I didn’t show up on Dianne’s Tuesday night’s it would be curtains for me. But seriously it is the dedication of the KLC staff; their energy and dedication in helping clients is contagious. I have formed a longstanding bond with KLC and its long serving and stable staff.
What's the best part of volunteering?
Helping the clients to find a way out of their legal conundrum in a relatively straight forward manner.
What do you find most challenging about volunteering?
Dealing with clients who bring in folders full of paper and a life history to match seeking advice in a 20 minute interview, the commercial client who should go elsewhere and a client who expects me to use my social work skills which I don’t have.
What advice would your give a young lawyer who was thinking about volunteering at a community legal centre?
Volunteering at a community centre provides a balance to your professional career. It makes you understand the problems affecting KLC’s clients. Once you have the legal knowledge to assist others in a positive way you have a moral duty to act pro bono to assist clients who haven’t the resources to pay. Volunteering at a community legal centre allows you to rest your conscience.