Since 1989, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation has recognized and rewarded outstanding pro bono service with the annual prese
ntation of the Louis J. Goffman Award. This year, the Foundation honors Attorney David J. Millstein, Volunteer Pro Bono Director of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program.
Since 1991, the Westmoreland Bar Foundation has operated a pro bono program to serve the civil legal needs of the county’s impoverished citizens. The program was created to provide legal services to clients ineligible to receive assistance from Laurel Legal Services, the local provider of pro bono civil legal services.
Prior to 2013, the pro bono program relied on approximately 10% of the local attorneys and two staff members to serve the growing flow of clients in need of legal assistance.
In 2013, veteran attorney David J. Millstein, a local practitioner with more than 40 years of legal experience, volunteered to become the first Executive Director of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program. His knowledge, experience, energy and deep commitment to helping those who can’t help themselves has transformed the volunteer pro bono program into a robust legal clinic – one that handled nearly 700 cases in 2015.
The pro bono program’s highest caseloads originate in Family Law, landlord/tenant and bankruptcy/debt issues, all areas well known to Attorney Millstein who personally advises nearly 200 pro bono program clients a year in addition to maintaining his own private practice. Millstein meets with pro bono program clients at Westmoreland Bar Headquarters at least two days a week. While in the office, he will meet with walk-ins, solve client issues over the phone, schedule a mediation session, or just simply listen. No eligible client is turned away, and if the pro bono program is unable to provide direct and immediate assistance, Mr. Millstein personally contacts private attorneys until he finds a willing volunteer to assist in the pro bono consultation and resolution of the matter.
Attorney Millstein has been instrumental in the start-up of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Custody Attorney Program, a new initiative that works with the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County Custody and Visitation to streamline the custody process and to minimize pro se representation in custody cases. He personally works with clients to secure the final decree, and in 2015, the program was credited with reducing the number of unrepresented litigants by 20%.
Throughout his career, Attorney David Millstein has measured success not by personal achievements or financial gain, but by how much he has helped others. That’s why he became a lawyer and that’s what he thinks lawyers should do.
Since assuming the role of Executive Director of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program, Attorney Millstein has worked diligently to strengthen the program and to expand the culture of pro bono service in Westmoreland County. His 40+ years of legal experience have allowed him to fluently advise clients while providing program staff and clients with a better understanding of the law and its application to the specific facts of each case. He has overseen the expansion of the office into space donated by the county commissioners, developed a systemized approach to taking cases, avoided unnecessary litigation, conserved resources and earned the Westmoreland Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program the respect of the county commissioners, the court and the members of the bar.
Attorney Millstein graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and received his Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law. Following law school, Millstein worked in Pittsburgh as a staff attorney at the Federal Communications Commission and as an associate in the law firm of Hollinshead and Mendelsohn. He returned to Westmoreland County to open Millstein and Hoehler in Greensburg and would later become a sole practitioner for 15 years before creating Millstein and Knupp, his present firm.