GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Twenty-five years of “ensuring justice for all” will be celebrated here Thursday as Three Rivers Legal Services (TRLS) is honored by a State Supreme Court Justice, hundreds of North Central Florida lawyers and representatives of the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Chief Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead will be keynote speaker at the event, scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. at UF’s Emerson Alumni Hall. He and other officials will recognize founding in 1978 of the non-profit TRLS to provide free legal services to eligible low-income clients in a 12-county area.
“We are pleased and honored to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration of an outstanding public service legal organization that has helped ensure justice for all,” said law school Dean Jon Mills, who will introduce Anstead.
The chief justice will help honor Three Rivers’ staff and board members who have served the organization since its inception, and also will honor attorneys throughout North Central Florida who voluntarily have provided time and efforts to assist the poor, abused, elderly and disabled in Three Rivers’ service area – Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Union counties.
Allison Thompson, TRLS executive director, will present for the first time the Anne L. Spitzer Award for Public Interest Law to honor UF law students who worked at TRLS as part of their curriculum and subsequently have made notable accomplishments and careers in public interest law.
“The award is in memory of Associate Professor Spitzer, a primary force in developing the law school’s Virgil Hawkins Civil Clinics and advisor to hundreds of students who helped us represent impoverished clients in civil legal matters, “ said Marcia G. Lockhart, Three Rivers’ pro bono coordinator. Spitzer was on the UF law faculty from 1979 – 1997, when she died of Lou Gehrig’s’s disease.
Three Rivers was organized when Legal Services Corporation, a federal agency made funds available to local legal aid programs. With this funding, Storefront Legal Aid, a state-funded free service founded in the early 70s in Gainesville by a group of legal professionals, was combined with the legal aid branch of Suwannee River Economic Council to form Three Rivers. In addition to staff and student assistance from the UF law school and its civil clinics, Three Rivers receives voluntary expertise, advice and client representation from about 25 percent of the private attorneys in its 12-county service area.
Financial support for the recognition event has been provided through donations from law firms, area businesses and the Eighth and Third Judicial Circuit Bar Associations. For additional information, contact Marcia Lockhart at 352.372.0519 or email: Marcia.Lockhart@trls.org.
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