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1/1/2000 - Jan 2000 SLI Newsletter


A. ERIC JOHNSTON 2700 Highway 280, Suite 220 West HARRY O. YATES

President Mountain Brook Center Executive Director

General Counsel Birmingham, Alabama 35223 Associate Counsel

Telephone: (205) 879-9220

Facsimile: (205) 879-9229

Dear Supporter:

We have changed our name. Please notice our new letterhead. We are now known as the "Southeast Law Institute."

We are still doing the same work we have always done: protecting religious freedom, the sanctity of life and family values, as well as working on related issues. We are still private attorneys contributing our time to these efforts. We are still a non-profit organization and your contributions remain tax deductible. We are excited about this change and believe that it will ultimately result in an even greater impact on Alabama and surrounding states.

You may wonder why we changed from the Rutherford Institute of Alabama, Inc. (RIA) to the Southeast Law Institute. The initial reason is very simple, but there are additional very important reasons.

First, RIA was incorporated in 1984 as one of the first state affiliates of The Rutherford Institute (TRI), an international organization. Through the years, TRI changed its operations and ultimately became centrally administered and dissolved all of its state affiliates, except for RIA.

RIA had gained such a strong foothold in Alabama providing legal services and assistance to individuals and pro-family groups, that we had become autonomous. As you know, our services have been provided free of charge and we have had a nominal operating budget which permitted us, as private practicing lawyers, to contribute our time to these efforts on a no charge or significantly reduced fee basis.

Because RIA was the only remaining state affiliate, it caused administrative problems for TRI. Therefore, we decided it was best to dissolve RIA as an affiliate. TRI continues to operate and we continue to work with it.

On the other hand, we wish to continue our presence in Alabama. Therefore, we incorporated as a non-profit corporation and obtained tax-exempt status for the Southeast Law Institute. We will now operate under that name and continue the work we have been doing without missing a step.

Because of our strong local presence, with most of our work being done in Alabama and surrounding states, we decided to change our identity to reflect that. We will still work with other local organizations of every description, as well as, national organizations.

TRI was the first public interest litigation type organization. Since then, many have been formed and all provide basically the same service. They include The American Center for Law and Justice, The American Family Association Law Center, The Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, and Becket Fund. Obviously, the number of such organizations may cause some confusion.

In sum, we can fill the need of providing a local legal organization, while at the same time providing assistance to national organizations. We will not be replacing any organization, as such, but we will be local counsel when local counsel is needed. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly from a service standpoint, by being familiar with local laws, judges and politics, we can work with a national organization to provide local counsel assistance.

In addition to the foregoing national organizations, there are a number of local ones in some states, and regional ones in the west and the northeast. There is not one specifically serving Alabama or the southeast. We believe we can fill that need.

Therefore, not only will we continue our work as an independent organization in Alabama, but we will work with other organizations to provide assistance to individuals who have contacted them for help. By so doing, we believe we can more effectively participate in a cooperative effort to protect our religious freedom and important family values.

It is our hope and prayer that you will continue supporting us. We will be the same people doing the same job. However, if you have any questions, please call or write us. Otherwise, we will continue to keep you updated as we have always done and will look forward to your contributions.

To reiterate, your contributions will continue to be tax deductible. Unless we hear from you, we will process any remaining RIA checks to the Southeast Law Institute. Please make your checks payable to the Southeast Law Institute or SLI.

We continue to appreciate your prayer and financial support. On behalf of the Southeast Law Institute, Harry Yates, and our cooperating attorneys, I am,

Yours very truly,



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