It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of former SLC Litigation Director Neil Chonin this past April. Neil joined SLC in spring of 2006 and retired from SLC in 2016. He was a board certified civil trial advocate, having been a trial lawyer spanning a legal career of more than 50 years. Neil was also a prominent, board-certified labor and employment lawyer. He obtained his law and undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida. Neil enjoyed his return to Gainesville to cap off an illustrious legal career with a decade of service to SLC. He was often seen attending UF sporting events and wearing orange and blue to show his school spirit.
Neil was passionate about protecting the rights of individuals who were the most vulnerable and finding creative remedies for his clients. He worked on a variety of important legal issues at SLC, from protecting the constitutional rights of homeless individuals, to advocating for the right of all children to receive a high-quality education, to remedying housing discrimination, to ensuring seniors and persons with physical disabilities could stay in their homes and communities instead of being forced to reside in institutions.
Neil left his mark on future generations of trial lawyers through his mentoring of SLC attorneys, law clerks and others. Neil was a frequent lecturer and trainer of lawyers in trial advocacy, including serving as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he taught Trial Advocacy.
Neil left a tremendous impact on the advancement of pro bono work through a career dedicated to the public interest. He was awarded the Tobias Simon award in 1984 and in 1983 was awarded Florida's 11th Circuit Pro Bono award. He was selected as the Dade County ACLU Man of the Year in 1994. He served on Legal Services of Greater Miami's board of directors and is a past president of that organization. He helped establish Florida’s 11th Circuit's public interest law bank. He also served as a Chair of the Third District Court of Appeals’ nominating commission.
Neil’s enthusiasm for using the power of the law to protect the rights of all persons inspires us to continue the fight in search of a more just society. Thank you, Neil, for leaving such an important legacy for SLC and for the legal profession.