Gideon's Promise MSU Law seeks partners to improve access to justice

With more than 80 percent of the 12 million people who pass through the criminal justice system unable to afford lawyers, MSU Law is looking for alumni and donors who may want to help support the Gideon's Promise Law School Partnership Program.

The Partnership recruits talented, third-year law students interested in public service and places them in positions at underserved public defender offices. Students who participate receive a commitment of a permanent job within one year from the public defenders' offices where they are placed.

The program gives MSU Law students excellent career opportunities at the same time they are helping to ensure individuals in the criminal justice system receive quality legal representation as required by the Gideon V. Wainwright Supreme Court decision.

"By funding this important program, our alumni and friends can make a real difference in improving access to quality legal representation," MSU Law Dean Joan W. Howarth said. "At the same time, it provides a meaningful career opportunity for our students."

More than 20 law colleges across the country participated in the 2015 program, including Georgetown University Law, Harvard Law, and the University of Michigan Law School.

Each participant will learn skills essential to novice public defenders, including strategies to resist pressures to adapt to the status quo of processing clients through the system quickly.

"Fifty-one years after the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court made it clear that equal justice depends on poor people having access to quality representation," said Jonathan Rapping, founder and president of Gideon's Promise. "The LSPP gives law schools a vehicle to finally help their graduates work to make this ideal a reality. This model is a critical piece of any effort to reform criminal justice in this country, ensuring 'justice for all' is not an empty promise, but a commitment that rings true for every single American."

If you or your firm would like to learn more or sponsor a student for the program, contact Tina Kashat Casoli, director of the Office of Advancement, at 517-432-6842

Published: Fri, Jul 03, 2015