Southern Legal Counsel celebrates 40 years of social justice lawyering with guest Morris Dees

Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year protecting civil rights in Florida.

SLC is a Gainesville-based non-profit public interest law firm that does statewide work dedicated to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic civil and human rights. They will celebrate 40 Years of Impact at an event at the University of Florida Hilton on Oct. 21. Morris Dees, pioneering civil rights lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be the keynote speaker. Known for innovative lawsuits that crippled some of America’s most notorious white supremacist hate groups, Dees will speak about the importance of public interest law firms, like SLC, that focus on impact litigation.

The event will begin at 6:30pm with music, a silent auction, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres, with Dees scheduled to speak at 7:30. Tickets are $40 each or two for $75. For more information, see SLC’s Facebook page or website,

Founded in 1977, SLC was created to use the power of the law to make positive social change. SLC represents individuals who otherwise would not have access to the justice system, with the goal of fixing an underlying problem for all those who have experienced similar injustices. Taking a systemic approach to legal problems enables SLC to make a larger impact for those experiencing discrimination or violations of rights. Its actions help reform systems and institutions, strike down illegal laws and policies, and hold government accountable to the people it is intended to serve.

From the beginning, SLC has worked on many fronts, resulting in landmark legal victories reforming institutions for people with disabilities, challenging discrimination in all aspects of life, and ensuring government accountability and transparency.SLC’s current work includes statewide litigation against the State of Florida to force compliance with the government’s paramount duty as set forth in our constitution: to provide a high quality system of public education to all children without regard to socio-economic status, race, or disability. This case will have wide-ranging impacts on the future of public education in Florida and who can seek access to the courts to protect those rights.

Throughout its history, SLC has fought on behalf of some of the most vulnerable in our state, while constantly innovating new ways to bridge gaps in access to justice. This year, in partnership with Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender advocates around the state, SLC is leading a statewide Transgender Rights Initiative to assist transgender individuals through clinics and legal advice to change their names and gender markers on government-issued documents. Since more than 68 percent of transgender individuals reported that they have not updated their identification documents, this project aims to protect against discrimination and harassment and provide a critically needed legal service.

Join SLC in celebrating 40 years of innovative social justice lawyering for the people of Gainesville, our region, and the state of Florida. As Morris Dees will surely remind us, in the current political climate this work is needed now more than ever.

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