public defender training

Core 101

Our Model

CORE 101 is the foundation of public defender training and development for Gideon’s Promise. This baseline training is specifically designed to support attorneys that have only been public defenders for one to three years. CORE 101 has three distinct goals: to instill a client-centered value system, to provide attorneys with top notch training, and to build a network of public defenders who seek to change the field of public defense. The CORE 101 program is open to public defenders currently working in the public defender offices Gideon’s Promise currently partners with. Upon graduating from the CORE 101 Program, alumnae can maintain their involvement in the Gideon's Promise movement through the Trainer Development Program, Leadership Trainings, and the Mentorship Program. These programs convene yearly or bi-yearly, and allow the Gideon's Promise community to maintain connections with each other while they practice the Gideon's Promise model, keeping the promise of transforming public defense.
  • For more detailed information about the CORE 101 Program, please click HERE to view our brochure.
  • Once you begin the application, it must be completed. You are unable to save the application and return to it at a later time. We have provided a pdf of the CORE 101 Essay Questions, so that you can prepare your answers without entering the application.
  • Please click HERE to review the CORE 101 FAQ, this document has detailed information about the application and the CORE 101 process.
  • CORE 101 does not provide direct services to public defenders; attorneys must work through their partner offices to participate in the program.

Perks of Core 101

Values: The CORE 101 program curriculum teaches a client-centered approach to defending, and seeks to promote this vision across the criminal legal system. Skills: Talented and experienced public defenders from around the country serve as faculty to teach CORE 101 students the skills necessary to provide excellent representation. Community: The CORE 101 community provides defenders with a network of individuals to support them in their efforts to provide client-centered representation. As this community grows, it will serve as a powerful force for change within the public defender community.

Core 101 Programs

The CORE 101 training for new public defenders begins with a three day orientation in January, followed by a two-week intensive training in July. Much of training takes place in workshops with low student- to-faculty ratios in which hands on learning is emphasized. Participants are often on their feet doing in- court simulations and role- playing exercises, after which a faculty member might lead a facilitated discussion about the exercise. In addition to providing top-notch criminal defense instruction, Summer Institute is intended to instill a sense of public defender pride among attendees, while building community both among new public defenders and between new public defenders and their more experienced counterparts. Following the two-week Summer Institute, CORE 101 members return for a weekend of training and community building in January. The class will meet every six-months for the next two years. CORE 101 takes place over a period of three-years. Attorneys pick from a variety of sessions to participate in during Winter Institute, many of which are eligible for CLE credit. These weekends, which occur every January and July, provide an opportunity to reconnect with CORE 101 classmates, and forge new connections with CORE 101 members from different classes, while brushing up on critical skills.

Why You Should Care?

74% of people in U.S. jails (nearly half a million people on any given day) are awaiting trial and have not yet been found guilty. Pretrial detention accounts for 95% of America’s jail population growth between 2000 and 2014 and costs the United States government $13.6 billion per year.[1][2]

97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases resolve through plea deals rather than a jury trial. [3] Poor people, who cannot afford bail, are more likely to plead guilty to a criminal charge because it is the fastest way to return home.[4] This practice particularly harms Black Americans, who are 25% more likely to be detained pretrial.[5]

A study by the California Policy Lab reveals that providing access to counsel prior to arraignment (a person’s first appearance before a judge) doubled a person’s chance of being released from jail from 14% to 28%.[6]

Support through Mentorship

Each incoming CORE 101 member is assigned a mentor who has graduated from the CORE 101 program. The mentorship program is a crucial component of the Gideon's Promise community. CORE 101 graduates who sign up to mentor new CORE 101 members receive mentoring and advanced trial skills training. The mentorship program allows alumnae to stay involved in the community while providing incoming members with invaluable support and guidance. In 2020, over 50% of the graduating CORE 101 class expressed an interest in mentoring the incoming class, resulting in a total of 95 available mentors.
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COre 101 Story

“[I] very much appreciate that [mentors] were willing to share personal anecdotes and provide real world examples of times when they have personally struggled. It is not easy to be vulnerable and share personal thoughts/feelings of anxiety… but for the first time in a long time I realized I am not alone. To feel validated and understood by such well respected and experienced attorneys was even more powerful.”

CORE 101 Class of 2019 mentee

CORE 101 Class of 2019 mentee


COre 101 Story

“The sense of community and love felt as we gather to hone trial skills…keep[s] us motivated and charged for at least the next 6 months until we see each other again.”

W. Devin Franklin

Gideon's Promise Trainer, CORE 101 Class of 2010


COre 101 Story

“Community is vital to the sustainability of a career in public defense. [The Gideon’s Promise] movement is so important to me because I want to draw on this network of public defenders for guidance and inspiration.”

Emily Lubin

CORE 101 Class of 2019

Why It Works

  • One of the only organizations that offers training and development programs that prepares defenders for the psychological and social impact of their career.
  • Has the strongest regional market position in the South for training public defenders.
  • Develops public defenders while they’re still in law school enabling them to create a Gideon-trained talent pipeline for public defense systems across the nation.
  • Has a proprietary curriculum with specially trained faculty that is CLE eligible and supported by the American Bar Association.

About Us

A Change is Coming

We defend our most vulnerable communities from the effects of mass incarceration -- keeping families together with dignity. Our Mission To transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities. Our Vision  We envision a nation where every person has access to zealous, outstanding representation necessary to ensure “equal justice for all" in the criminal justice arena.

Protecting The Promise

You don't have to be a public defender to protect the promise of zealous counsel for all. Your monthly contribution--no matter the amount--will directly impact the fate of a client accused of a crime, who didn't know they needed you.