With a Pro Bono Transformation grant from The Florida Bar Foundation, Southern Legal Counsel established a formal pro bono program in 2019, hiring attorney Samantha Howell as its first pro bono director.
During the first two years of the pro bono program, SLC worked with more than 300 pro bono volunteers, including lawyers, law students, grad students, and undergraduate students. Collectively, this group provided about 9,000 hours of service. Our vision is to continue to increase the number of volunteers and the scope of their work to integrate pro bono across all areas of legal advocacy.
We celebrate the following successes achieved this past year with our pro bono partners:
- SLC was joined by pro bono co-counsel in two successful federal court victories, resulting in injunctions protecting constitutional rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
- Pro bono counsel worked with SLC on behalf of a broader coalition of housing and homeless service providers to submit comments in response to a proposed federal rule change seeking to roll back non-discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Equal Access Rule. The proposed federal rules changes ultimately were not adopted.
- In an effort to help restore thousands of wrongfully suspended driver’s licenses, SLC worked with about 85 students to analyze over 16,000 suspensions issued in 30 Florida counties that resulted from the driver’s failure to pay certain court fines and fees in municipal ordinance cases. This restorative justice project followed a victory by SLC and the ACLU of Florida that had brought about systemic change affecting more than 10,000 people in 29 counties whose licenses had been unlawfully suspended.
- SLC helped connect law students with pro bono volunteer lawyers from the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association participating in the Alachua County Driver’s License Reinstatement Clinic. Each volunteer attorney worked with a law student to assist residents in clearing their driver’s licenses. Collectively, the clinic had 115 client participants, 26 volunteer attorneys, and 19 volunteer students, who provided over 450 hours of pro bono service.
While there is no way to adequately thank each and every volunteer for their support, we want to acknowledge the time, energy, and passion contributed by all of our volunteers. You help us improve the lives of Florida’s most disenfranchised communities.
If you would like to volunteer with SLC, please complete our volunteer registration form.