Three Alumni Chosen for Award- Winning Public Defenders Program

Jonathan Rapping, JD ’95, founder and president or Gideon’s Promise

Gideon’s Promise announced its 2014 Law School Partnership Program class, composed of 15 recent law school graduates poised to join a group of public defenders committed to transforming criminal justice. Three 2014 GW Law graduates were chosen for the program’s inaugural class: Adam Pienciak, Jack Talaska, and Thomas Rimmer. 

“The work these young lawyers do represents the highest calling of our profession,” says Gideon’s Promise Founder and President Jonathan Rapping, JD ’95. 

Through his nonprofit Gideon’s Promise, Mr. Rapping works to change the culture of the public defense system by teaching new lawyers important skills in a structured, multiyear program. The MacArthur Foundation recently honored him as a 2014 MacArthur Fellow in recognition of his training work. Known as “genius grants,” the fellowships award $625,000 cash prizes to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” 

To date, 10 of the nation’s top law schools have joined the initiative. In addition to GW Law, these include the law schools at American University, Boston University, New York University, Northwestern University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of California, Los Angeles, Harvard University, and Vanderbilt University. The goal is to expand the program to at least 20 law schools and 20 public defender’s offices, and to place 20 law students in public service careers by 2016.

“We are grateful to these schools for working with Gideon’s Promise and the Department of Justice to provide these graduates this opportunity, and we are proud of their dedication to serving our most vulnerable citizens,” Mr. Rapping says.