Lee Steinfeld is a licensed attorney from Texas who found a way to make the law a source of entertainment via YouTube. Holding a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University Law School, Lee is now known as an online personality. His YouTube channel—Leonhart—has more than 350,000 subscribers. His video content features everything from games to friendly chats. Lee is also a voice actor, and he has done some work for shows like “One Piece for Funimation Entertainment.”

Lee has used his popularity to help charities.

For instance, in November and December, he actively raises funds for Save the Children, and he also does a lot of work for charities that help people with mental illnesses.

Lee discussed all this and more via an exclusive interview on November 15, 2018.

Law, YouTube, and content

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in law and what area do you specialize in?

Lee Steinfeld (LS): I originally wanted to go to law school during my time as a student at the University of Texas at Austin in 2007.

I was studying to get my degree in communications and advertising, however, believed I could take what I learned from my degree to do something with law. As a graduate student at SMU Dedman School of Law, I took various intellectual property classes which utilized my creativity from advertising and skills as a future attorney. The main areas I had specialized in were soft intellectual property (trademark and copyright) along with business law (contracts).

MM: What prompted you to start with YouTube and how did it get so big?

LS: Back in 2013 I had watched several other YouTube personalities, mainly Markiplier & JackSepticEye, not only provide entertainment through their channels but raise funds for various charities. In late November 2014, I finally began my channel with an emphasis on retro gaming. I had also made it a mission that I’d be using my channel to raise awareness and funds for several charities and organizations, initially being Save the Children and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

While I had a lot of fun producing retro game videos, the channel took off when I found my old Pokémon card collection and made a video on it. I quickly felt how nostalgic it was to be essentially, “playing with Pokémon cards” again; however, the feeling was mutual. Thousands of other viewers began subscribing to my channel because they felt the same nostalgic feeling. I decided I would switch my focus from retro gaming to producing Pokémon unboxing videos of old Pokémon products (mainly the official trading card game) and new sets. I believe the main reasons why my channel grew so big was because not only did I create original content, but people could see how passionate I was about making videos for them.

As of writing this, my YouTube channel is close to 360,000 amazing subscribers.

MM: How would you describe your content?

LS: I would describe my content based off of the thousands of comments my viewers leave. I provide family-friendly video logs (VLOGs) where I open Pokémon card packs in search of rare and valuable cards. However, I take these openings a bit further. I make my videos watchable not only for a younger audience but older as well. I’ve gotten tons of comments from viewers expressing how happy they are that they’ve been able to bond with their kids because I’ve made my videos friendly for all ages.

Yes, Pokémon is primarily for kids, but don’t forget, I was the target audience when the game first came out in the late 90’s. My love for Pokémon has not gone away; I believe millions of others my age could say the same. From recording myself going to random stores to purchase new cards, bobbing for Pokémon cards with my little cousin Aliza or simply wanting to keep up with the newest products to be released you’ll honestly find something for all ages on my channel.

MM: How did you select the name of your channel and where do your ideas for videos come from?

LS: The name “Leonhart” was derived from several things.

First off, my real name is Leon, so I had incorporated that into choosing. Second, in 1998 a popular video game called “Final Fantasy 8” for the Sony PlayStation came out where the main character’s last name was Leonhart. It wasn’t until the third thing where it was the ultimate reason why I chose the name. Back in middle school, I would play “Final Fantasy 8” with my friend Grant Halliburton. Grant loved the game so much to where he’d dress up as the main character and would call me Leonhart whenever we saw each other. Unfortunately, Grant had Bipolar Disorder, a disease that is ever so devastating more than ever today.

Grant passed away in 2005, and therein I wanted to honor his memory by naming my channel after a fond memory between Grant and me.

Mental health, charities, and dream assignments

MM: You do a lot of work for mental health charities, why is this cause so close to your heart?

LS: From the first video I did on my channel (which is still up today), I had mentioned I’d be using it to raise awareness and funds for various organizations. I saw how successful Markiplier had been in giving back. Granted, Markiplier had millions of subscribers, and I was sitting there with a total of 0 subscribers, I knew I would eventually be able to make a difference.

In today’s world, more than ever, the issue of mental health is prominent. In Grant’s memory, I wanted to help others as much as I could. That is why I ran several fundraisers via my channel for organizations such as Grant Halliburton Foundation, Child Mind Institute, and Mental Health America to name a few. To this day, we have raised tens of thousands of dollars, but most importantly provided a safe avenue for those struggling with depression.

MM: How did you get involved with Save the Children and how do you plan to help them as the holiday season approaches?

LS: I saw the impact that Save the Children has not only on children in America but the entire world.

I contacted Save the Children to see if they would be interested in myself putting on a big Pokémon card opening on my channel in support of their cause. Save the Children was enthusiastic about joining together. For November and December 2018 I will be opening vintage Pokémon card booster boxes from 1999 in hopes of spurring support and awareness for Save the Children. Based off of my previous fundraisers, I have no doubt the awesome community I built will rise to the occasion for this.

MM: If you could work with any celebrity, or film in any location, what would be your “dream assignment” and why?

LS: I’ve had my childhood celebrities I had dreamed of working with, however, if I could work with anyone, it would be the YouTuber personality Markiplier I had mentioned before. To be able to team up with someone like Markiplier, who had a major influence on my channel today and perhaps even raise funds and awareness for another organization together would be incredible.

MM: What are your major career goals—as both a lawyer and a YouTuber—for the near future and would you like to discuss anything further?

LS: I’d like to see my brand overall continue to grow, not just on YouTube, but in many areas.

I’m already doing this in a way by doing voice acting for Funimation Entertainment and traditional acting, having been in several nationwide commercials. I also have a couple of big projects I’ve been working on that I must keep a secret for now. As for being a lawyer, I continue to use the skills and knowledge from my time as a lawyer in growing my entertainment business. I just wanted to end on mentioning that I hope people see how beneficial influencers are, not only me but the thousands out there. Yes, influencers like myself create fun videos for a living, but also provide countless hours of entertainment and provide funds and awareness for many causes.

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