Impact of the Gimbel Program
The highly valued Gimbel Program fills the disparity in support and training between public interest lawyers and the private attorneys against whom they often litigate. Legal aid nonprofits are usually not able to afford this kind of intensive, multi-day programming for the professional skills development of their staff.
While committed to its educational goals, the Gimbel Program simultaneously builds a community as it brings Philadelphia’s public interest leaders together to serve a common mission.
The teachers and students assembled to participate in the Program integrate diverse organizational and practice backgrounds, providing the opportunity for many distinctive perspectives. Both the world class instructors and inquisitive participants are extremely invested and contribute greatly to the rich environment, making it valuable for all involved.
The practical exercises and instantaneous feedback develop new skills and make a huge impact. Participants become more mindful of their own practices and apply what they know in new ways.
Being under the tutelage of experts while simultaneously practicing a wide range of skills in trial simulations allows the legal aid participants to gain confidence in the courtroom that is immediately transferrable to their daily work. Increased awareness by attorneys of what they say, how they sound to another person, and how they prepare and conduct their presentation, make them more effective advocates for their clients. Practice with hypothetical cases that might actually come up in participants’ day-to-day work also makes the training program extremely relevant and helpful.
“No matter how right you are you need to be persuasive to prevail. It is critical to be as skilled as possible and approach your case in a way you will be heard.” Debbie H. Simon, attorney at Elliot Greenleaf and a Gimbel Program instructor.
“One of the most rewarding parts of the program is being reminded of how vibrant the legal aid community is in Philadelphia. The training is especially unique as it allows public interest agencies to spend meaningful time together and gather inspiration from one another.” J.C. Lore, Lead Coordinator of the Gimbel Program and Clinical Professor of Law and Trial Advocacy Director, Rutgers Law School.
“It was helpful to be around lawyers who practice the same work, and to hear their viewpoints was very interesting.” Alex Dutton, Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow at the Education Law Center and a Gimbel Program participant.
“[The instructors] will pick up on things you won’t even realize that you’re doing.” Pam Ende, Volunteer Child Advocate Fellow at the Support Center for Child Advocates and Program participant.