Fair and just representation under the law with Gideon’s Promise

The 1963 case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that defendants unable to pay for legal representation must be provided on by the state. This landmark decision was the birth of the public defender’s system in the United States, and created a momentous shift in the criminal justice system.

To honor that decision, and to ensure all public defenders were informed, engaged, and encouraged as attorneys, Gideon’s Promise was founded. Started in 2007, the nonprofit works with public defenders across the country to train, mentor and support them to provide quality representation to individuals who can’t afford attorneys.

While working with attorneys directly, Gideon’s Promise wants to shift current cultural perceptions, especially as they pertain to people of limited means. By supporting the grueling work of public defenders, Gideon’s Promise hopes to change the way defendants are processed through the system.

The organization is also trying to do their part in stopping mass incarceration. According to their website, since the Gideon v. Wainwright case was tried in 1963, the prison population in the United States has gone from 217,000 to 2.3 million, even though there has been a decrease in crime rates.

To combat these growing numbers, Gideon’s Promise is making it personal. “We felt like who better to partner with than public defenders who help tell the story of their clients, their client’s significance, their importance, and why we should advocate for people who have no voice in court,” said Ilham Askia, Gideon’s Promise Executive Director.

This partnership starts by acknowledging the demanding workload for public defenders. While the American Bar Association suggests that attorneys take on no more than 150 cases each year, the average public defender tried between 250 and 300. Gideon’s Promise works with young, new attorneys to make sure they are prepared for the work ahead of them.

To achieve its goals, Gideon’s Promise has multiple programs. The New Public Defender Program works with attorneys with less than three years of experience, providing them with comprehensive training and support for the first three years of their career.

To create a pipeline of new public defenders, Gideon’s Promise’s Summer Law Clerk Program attracts and recruits current law students interested in public defense. Each student is paired with a partner law firm for a 6-10 week summer training program.

Askia said their ideal public defender candidates are students already interested in the specialty.

“You have the heart-set, mind-set, soul-set to really do this work,” she said. “You have to really want to change and make a difference in the lives of people.”

“Law school tends to strip the humanity out of it,” she said. “You are learning about the law, but at the end of the day, you are representing people. So when we go into recruit, we try to remind them of that. When you talk about public defense, it takes a special breed of lawyer to do this work.”

For more information on Gideon’s Promise, including how to become a Summer Clerk Program partner firm, go to www.gideonspromise.org, or check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Job Tip of the Week from The Good Works Show

This week’s job tip on The Good Works Show came from Summer Dunham, Director of Public Relations at Goodwill of North Georgia. From turning her childhood interests into a career, she provided a job tip that has helped her build a career while doing what she is passionate about.

Job Tip Summer

“Think about something that you like, and find a way to do it as a job,” she said. “When I was little, I liked talking to anybody that would listen. I looked at careers that involved talking to people, and here I am doing public relations in the great state of Georgia, for an organization with a mission I really believe in. Think of what you like, and find a way to get paid for it.”

To listen to the full show, click here and don’t forget to tune in at noon on Saturday for a new episode of The Good Works Show!

Year End Donations Featured on The Good Works Show

Empowering Others QuoteWith the end of the year right around the corner, it is Goodwill’s busiest time for donated goods. Individuals are cleaning out their homes to make room for holiday gifts, getting ready for next year, and getting in those last minute donations for their 2016 tax write-off. These donations are critical to the mission of Goodwill of North Georgia, as the revenue made in the stores goes back into job training and placement programs, putting individuals to work.

To talk about the year-end giving process, Regional Director of Retail Operations Vernon Warren joins the show to fill in listeners on what to donate, and what to expect at the stores during this busy time. Next, retiring VP of Human Resources John Mayfield calls in to talk about his tenure with Goodwill, and what the work meant to him. He also shares some insight on what it means to lead a department for 21 years. Listen to the episode in full at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow/vernon-warren-john-mayfield-121716.

Leadership Tip from Usher’s New Look Alumna Kamera Cobb

Usher’s New Look alumna Kamera Cobb learned a thing or two from going through the four-year program. One of the many leadership tips she picked up while participating with the nonprofit? Networking, and how you present yourself, is key.

Usher
Usher

She emphasizes this with the current students of the program, with whom she advises. “It’s all about eye contact, a firm handshake, and speaking clearly,” she tells them.

These tips are also critical when interviewing for a job. First impressions are key, and even the littlest component of the initial meeting can contribute to the overall success of the interview. Beyond eye contact and confidence Cobb suggests, here are a few more ways to make your mark.

  1. Don’t be late. But don’t be too early. The potential employer might have a very busy schedule, so don’t show up too ahead of your interview, making them scramble to be available.
  2. Dress appropriately. This will likely be the first time you have met the employer face-to-face. Make sure you wear something that fits well, is ironed and clean, and is professional.
  3. Practice your elevator speech. All interviews are different, but it’s usually a given that you’ll be asked to tell the interviewer a little bit about yourself, and why you are a good fit for the job. Be prepared with this answer.
  4. Treat everyone with respect. You aren’t just trying to impress the interviewer. Make sure to be kind and appreciative to everyone from the secretary to the CEO.
  5. Send a handwritten thank-you note. Emails and quick communications are the norm. Stand out by taking the time to write, and mail, an appreciation for the time of your interviewers.

For more job and leadership tips tune in to The Good Works Show on Saturdays at noon on News Radio 106.7 FM or catch the podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow.