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Local Attorney Now Heads Community Law Center

By Rio Bauce
Tuesday August 07, 2007

The East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is undergoing a makeover, not only becaused it has moved, but also because it has a new executive director. Last month, the center promoted a minority rights advocate, Tirien Steinbach, to be its new executive director. Steinbach replaced Interim Executive Director Deborah Moss-West. 

“I grew up five blocks from here,” said Steinbach. “I knew when I went into a legal career that I wanted to serve low-income people and people of color. I wanted to see an increase of people of color in law and justice work. Also, I wanted to encourage our student population to reflect our clientele. It’s the perfect synergy of these issues that motivated me to get involved in law.” 

Steinbach grew up in Berkeley, attended Berkeley High School, and graduated in 1999 from the Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley. She began work at the EBCLC in 2001. Before she became the executive director, she was the director of clinical programs, where she supported and guided attorneys, taught seminars at Boalt Hall, and started an outreach program for young attorneys. 

Three years ago, EBCLC realized that they had outgrown their offices and began a campaign to find a new location. Two years later, they bought a new property at 2921 Adeline St. and three months ago finally moved there from their offices on 3130 Shattuck Ave. 

“It’s wonderful,” said Steinbach. “It’s equally convenient for clients. What’s wonderful to hear is that they feel the excellent services we provide are not only reflected by the staff but also by the buildings as well. It’s very gratifying to hear that from clients.” 

The EBCLC provides free legal services for people in Berkeley, specializing in issues of housing, welfare, health, community economic justice, and “clean slate” (restoration of the civil rights of ex-offenders). It has been providing these services since its founding in September of 1988 by a group of Boalt Hall students. Steinbach said that all next year the center will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary. 

“We are the largest legal service in Alameda County,” she said. “We serve thousands of clients every year. When they need someone to listen to them, we help them with that. Sometimes we are able to advocate for them. I hope that we will be around for years to come.”