The R. Nicholas Gimbel Fund for Legal Excellence


The R. Nicholas Gimbel Fund for Legal Excellence supports training programs, including a three-day trial advocacy program, at no cost for public interest lawyers in the Philadelphia area that practice at government agencies and organizations providing access to free or low-cost legal services. These programs teach legal aid attorneys the practical skills and techniques that are vital in achieving fairness and “leveling the playing field” within the legal system.

The three-day Trial Advocacy Training program provides a unique opportunity for public interest lawyers to learn and practice techniques such as opening statements and closing arguments, direct and cross-examination, as well as case analysis and preparation. The program utilizes a variety of teaching methods including lecture, demonstration, and courtroom role playing that are videotaped and critiqued. The program faculty consist of some of the best trial lawyers and teachers from the Philadelphia region and throughout the country.

The Gimbel Program truly embodies the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s commitment to equal justice for all. Public interest lawyers learn essential trial skills that allow them to continue to successfully work toward this mission. It is crucial for legal aid lawyers to be as prepared as possible, feel confident at trial, and possess the tools necessary to negotiate the most beneficial outcome for their clients. The attorneys return to their own agencies renewed and strengthened, helping many individuals and families struggling with poverty, abuse, and discrimination. The Gimbel Program helps to close the gap in access to justice by connecting and strengthening the legal aid community.

The R. Nicholas Gimbel Fund for Legal Excellence was created with contributions from friends, colleagues and loved ones to honor Nick Gimbel’s memory and support for legal aid, his love of the law, and his desire that it be practiced at the highest levels of excellence. The Philadelphia Bar Foundation is honored that Mr. Gimbel's family, friends, and colleagues have entrusted the Fund to its care.

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Past Programs

  • December 2019: One-day Evidence Training Program in partnership with Rutgers Law School-Camden and Temple University Beasley School of Law and hosted by Pepper Hamilton LLP.
  • December 2018: Three-day Trial Advocacy Training Program in partnership with Rutgers Law School-Camden and hosted by Pepper Hamilton LLP.
  • March 2016: Three-day Trial Advocacy Training Program in partnership with Rutgers Law School-Camden and hosted by Pepper Hamilton LLP.
  • June 2014: In honor of its 50th Anniversary, and in conjunction with the Legal Writing Institute’s 16th Biennial Conference in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation in collaboration with Rutgers Law School-Camden offered a three credit CLE on "Legal Persuasion in Writing.”
  • October 2013: Three-day Trial Advocacy Program for 40 public interest lawyers provided through a partnership with and hosted at Rutgers Law School-Camden.

About R. Nicholas Gimbel

R. Nicholas (“Nick”) Gimbel was a partner at the law firm of McCarter & English in Philadelphia and a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School. Through numerous achievements and a wide range of legal experiences, his dedication and passion for the law were renowned - clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, editor of two ABA publications, Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Adjunct Professor at Rutgers Law School, private attorney and litigator. 

Impact of the Gimbel Program