Joseph J. Levin, Jr.
Joseph J. Levin, Jr. "was born in Montgomery in 1943. His father was a lawyer with a commercial practice, and young Levin entered law school, just as his family expected him to do. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alabama in 1966.
"After serving two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Levin returned to his hometown to join his father's law practice. But the security of an established commercial practice left him unsatisfied.
"From the privacy of his office, he cheered another young Montgomery lawyer – Morris Dees – as he made headlines with the successful representation of a series of underdogs in civil rights cases. Levin told Dees' brother he'd like to help.
"Joe Levin and Morris Dees collaborated on a high-profile defense case that became the Associated Press's news story of the year. Though inexperienced in civil rights practice, Levin was "a natural-born trial lawyer, tireless and bright," Dees says. The two decided to start the law firm that eventually grew into the Southern Poverty Law Center...
"As the Center's legal director from 1971 until 1976, Levin worked on more than 50 major civil rights cases. He argued the landmark sex discrimination case, Frontiero vs. Richardson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law giving preferences to men in the military. He also argued and won Gilmore vs. City of Montgomery, in which the Supreme Court prohibited the use of public recreational facilities by private academies seeking to avoid school desegregation.
"In 1976, Levin left the Center to supervise President-elect Jimmy Carter's Justice Department transition team. He went on to serve as Special Assistant to the Attorney General and Chief Counsel to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 1979, he entered private practice in Washington, D.C.
"Levin continued his connection to the Center by serving as its president and board chairman. In September 1996, Levin returned to Montgomery to assume the role of chief executive officer. Beginning in November 2003, Levin serves as president emeritus, helping guide the Center today and in the future." 
Resources and articles
- Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed November 10, 2007.