Marrying Purposeful Lives With Purposeful Careers

The Orrick Lecture Series brought Jonathan Rapping, defendants’ advocate, to campus.
This year's speaker for the William H. Orrick Lecture Series was Jonathan Rapping, a nationally renowned criminal justice innovator who is the founder and president of Gideon’s Promise. The non-profit public defender advocacy organization provides training, leadership development, and mentorship to improve the quality of legal representation for indigent Americans. Rapping’s talk was titled Future Change Agents: Marrying Purposeful Lives With Purposeful Careers.

He began by asking the audience to think of the last time they were needed and proceeded to share several stories about clients who had been treated unfairly by our legal system. He talked about the tremendous need for capable defenders to safeguard the essential democratic right to competent legal representation. The impact of his words was evident during the question and answer session, when students asked about how to get involved in supporting this important work.

Rapping has won numerous awards for his work; most notably, he was named a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellow for the impact Gideon’s Promise has made on society. Additionally, Rapping and Gideon’s Promise are featured in the award-winning HBO documentary, Gideon’s Army (produced and directed by 2014 Orrick lecturer Dawn Porter, mother of Eli ’19 and William ’22).

The Orrick Lecture Series, established in 2005, was made possible by a generous donation from Suzanne Orrick in memory of her late husband, former U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick Jr. CdeP 1932. Judge Orrick had been a longstanding and loyal devotee and supporter of the The Thacher School throughout his life. The lecture series aims to educate students about the U.S. legal system, jurisprudence, and the public service done by attorneys and judges so that they may serve their communities and make a difference in the world after their time at Thacher. Every year brings a new theme, but the judge’s favorite ice cream bar is always served at the end of the night.

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