Dees is chief trial counsel and chair of the executive committee for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation. The Center specializes in civil rights violations and racially motivated crimes, and works to expose and undermine hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and armed anti-government militias that espouse violence.
The recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association in 1990, Dees devotes most of his time to developing ideas for "Teaching Tolerance," the Center's education project. He is also the author of several books, including the most recent, Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat (1996) and his autobiography, A Season for Justice (1991).
A highly successful lawyer, Dees has been named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and was awarded the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Distinguished Service Award. He has also been honored by the American Civil Liberties Union with its Roger Baldwin Award.
In addition to his work at the Center, Dees frequently speaks to colleges and universities. and a variety of other groups throughout the country.