August 2013 Bar Bulletin
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August 2013 Bar Bulletin

Volunteer of the Month

Jonathan Milstein

By Melanie Gillette


Jonathan Milstein has been volunteering with the King County Bar Association for the past five years, but has been involved with KCBA for much longer. In the summer of 1995, while still in law school, he volunteered with the KCBA, working on our Neighborhood Legal Clinics intake line.

Currently, he lends his skills and services to both the Kinship Care Solutions Project and the Family Law Mentor program. This month he is being honored for his work with the Kinship Care Solutions Project.

Milstein is a dedicated volunteer who volunteers because he enjoys it, because he can, and because it is what his parents taught him to do from a young age.

Judy Lin, senior managing attorney of the Kinship Care Solutions Project, says, "What is great about Jonathan is his commitment to helping our clients, his dedication to our programs, and his willingness to take on cases that fully use his experience and expertise."

KCBA Pro Bono Services would also like to thank Milstein for his time and commitment to serving low-income individuals and families in King County.

We asked Milstein some questions about his volunteering and his personal life.

Q: What inspires you to volunteer?

A: There is a sincere need and I have been fortunate to have an opportunity to obtain skills that can be used to address those needs.

Q: What is your most memorable volunteer experience?

A: A 12-year-old boy lost his mother to cancer and his father had essentially abandoned him. Fortunately, his maternal grandmother (legally blind) and grandfather were there for him. From the first day I met this family, they were so committed to this child, who was devastated by the sudden loss of his mother, that I poured my heart into this case. They were so appreciative of KCBA's Kinship Care program. We ended up going to a brief trial and when it was concluded, we all had a good cry of happiness and relief.

Q: What did you dream you would do for work when you were little?

A: From a very young age, I always maintained that I would be a professional baseball player and in the off-season I would practice law. My baseball dream died around the age of 10.

Q: How do you gain perspective regarding a difficult situation?

A: My wife is my check and balance in difficult times and difficult situations. She has a good sense of right and wrong and how to go about addressing these situations.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: The highlight of my week is coaching my children's soccer teams four days per week. We only have one rule on the field and that is to have fun, because if they do not have fun, they will never play again. I also dabble in the garden.

Q: How often do you volunteer?

A: I try to always maintain two cases (one from the Kinship Care program and one from the Family Law Mentor program) as well as two other cases from a domestic violence advocacy group.

Q: Do you have any pets? What are their names?

A: Winston is our old (age unknown) Labrador that my wife and I adopted from a shelter prior to having children as a sort of test to run to see if we could be responsible for someone other than ourselves. He was abused as a puppy and walks with a little limp. He has been smothered in love for the past 10 years.

Q: What keeps you motivated to volunteer?

A: The people whom I have met through the program. Each individual I have had the chance to assist is so appreciative and would be lost without guidance that these programs offer. More often than not, it is the procedural/legal process that trips these clients up, not the substantive portion. Until the barriers to access to the legal process are changed, there will always be a need for volunteers.

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is in helping the clients you work with?

A: Often, clients that I am able to assist through the Family Law Mentor or Kinship Care programs are also facing other difficult situations, e.g., landlord-tenant, bankruptcy, domestic violence. All of these issues are intertwined. It is imperative not to dismiss these secondary issues while at the same time staying focused on the most pressing issue at hand. Listening, being empathetic and reaching out to other resources is key to resolving all of these issues.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for fellow volunteers, especially those among us who are relatively new?

A: Obtaining a license to practice law is a gift that is best shared. KCBA has set up a failsafe system for those looking to get experience in the many areas where the KCBA provides pro bono assistance. The reward for participating in these programs is immense and gratifying.


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