Her heart is still with serving the underserved. After graduating law school in 1984 and passing the bar exam, Deborah Goldberg was pregnant, idealistic as could be, and ready to take on the world.
“I was either going to be a public defender and protect the innocent, or a State’s Attorney and advocate for battered women and children,” Goldberg said. “I also would have jumped at the chance to be a plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney.
When I waddled into interviews, my credentials suddenly didn’t seem as terrific as they did on paper.”
Goldberg hadn’t lived in Lake County very long and had absolutely no connections. And then someone mentioned Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS). “The Lake County Bar Association worked hand in glove with them, providing legal counsel through the Volunteer Lawyer’s Program,” Goldberg said. “I introduced myself, decided we were a perfect fit, and offered my services, but was then confined to bed, and had to back down.”
Three years later, Goldberg opened up her own firm in Lake County and re-established her relationship with PSLS. This time, she was able to follow through on her instincts. “I joined the Legal Aid Committee of the Bar, volunteered for cases, worked monthly walk-in clinics, became a pesky fundraiser, adopted the mission, and never looked back,” Goldberg continued.
Some 33 years later, Goldberg has never regretted a moment: “I have no idea how many hours I’ve put in, nor do I care. My volunteer work with PSLS has provided some of the most memorable and gratifying cases I could ever wish to see. When the Legal Aid Committee dissolved, I joined the Campaign Committee and have been there ever since. When the prior Lake County representative to the Board of Directors retired, I was honored to be asked to take his place, and I’m now serving my second term.”
Goldberg speaks Spanish fluently and has a niche in Lake County for serving this population. She said PSLS has helped educate her in areas such as limited immigration practice, where she’s been able to handle some VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) cases and SIJ (Special Immigrant Juvenile) cases. She also learned bankruptcy basics as a PSLS trainer. Goldberg said: “My wonderful partner emeritus, a former Managing Attorney of PSLS, and I have volunteered to offer training not only to staffers, but volunteers for domestic relations matters.”
Goldberg is a former President of the Lake County Bar Association (LCBA) and the Association of Women Attorneys of Lake County (AWALC). She currently sits on several committees of the LCBA. She also served three terms on the Illinois State Bar Association Assembly. However, PSLS is still her main focus.
Goldberg is about to give up all litigation practice and concentrate solely on mediation. She said this will allow her to spend more time with her husband, daughter, and cats. Traveling, theatre, and pop culture are her weaknesses. “I’m a trivia junkie and aspire to appear on Jeopardy as number one on my bucket list,” Goldberg said laughingly. “I’m also a total geek for Star Wars, Star Trek, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It’s a privilege working with PSLS, and I envision many more years of this association.”
Thank you, Deb, for being here for PSLS and our clients!