Gary S. Gildin

Gary S. Gildin

Professor of Law
Hon. G. Thomas and Anne G. Miller Chair in Advocacy
Director, Center for Public Interest Law and Advocacy

Phone: 717-240-5238

J.D., Stanford Law School
B.A., University of Wisconsin

Gildin on Teaching

In every substantive law course I teach, I am mindful to convey a set of universal skills of lawyering and legal argument that the students will be able to employ, no matter what their eventual area of practice. I also firmly believe that in order to properly understand the legal theories and doctrines embedded in any set of court decisions, students (and lawyers) must appreciate the real world, human stakes for the parties before the court. Finally, I see no conflict between being a rigorous teacher and creating a supportive learning environment where students speak freely without fear of offering an incorrect answer. I try to treat my students with the same care and respect that I hope was extended to my three children by their professors.

Gildin on Scholarship

My research and writings always have been influenced and informed by my public interest litigation. I currently am seeking to advance my own advocacy skills by exploring recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and neuroscience regarding how the brain makes decisions. I am particularly intrigued by how properly telling the facts of your client’s case in the form of a story can motivate the judge or jury to find in your favor. Of course, these scholarly endeavors in turn enrich my teaching in the classroom.

Gildin on Service

I am a steadfast believer in the professional obligation of every lawyer, regardless of the nature of his or her practice, to provide assistance to the underrepresented. Ironically, this is one of the most selfish things a lawyer can do. There is no greater reward in law than having a person who had reached a dead end in seeking relief from his or her problem turn to you and say, simply, “Thank you. I could not have done this without you.”

Gildin on Community

There is no question in my mind that the most distinctive feature of our law school is the pervasive feeling of community. My greatest professional reward has been witnessing the success of my students. I am privileged on a daily basis to work with intelligent men and women who are highly motivated to acquire the tools they will need to represent their future clients. It would be impossible not to treat the students’ views in the classroom with dignity; it would be ignorant not to recognize that there is much I can and do learn from them. 

Gildin's Engagement with the Profession

I consider myself equal parts lawyer and teacher and cannot imagine separating myself from the practice of law. Throughout my career at the law school, I have continued to engage in pro bono litigation on behalf of persons alleging infringement of their constitutional rights. I often enlist students to assist in the cases, and in several instances former students have served as my co-counsel in the trial. I have been fortunate to have regular opportunities to teach in continuing education programs that enhance the trial skills of practicing attorneys, which in turn has allowed me to learn from the best trial lawyers in the country. While serving as dean, one of the most rewarding aspects of my position was working with our talented and loyal alumni to identify the skills—legal and otherwise—that we must provide our students to put them in the best position to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Gildin's Outside Interests

I am a terminally intermediate blues guitarist, whose “fame” has been limited to performing at the annual PILF Auction and attendance at blues guitar camps. While resisting the label of “foodie,” I will confess to being constantly on the hunt for new eating venues. And I am becoming increasingly convinced of the benefits of yoga and meditation to life and to lawyering. 

Gildin's Publications

“Cross-Examination at Trial: Strategies for the Deposition,” 35 American Journal of Trial Advocacy 471 (2012)

“Redressing Deprivations of Rights Secured by State Constitutions Outside the Shadow of the Supreme Court’s Remedies Jurisprudence,” 115 Penn St. L. Rev. 877 (2011)

“The Supreme Court's Legislative Agenda to Free Government from Accountability for Constitutional Deprivations,” 114 Penn St. L. Rev. 1333 (2010)  

“Strip Searches and the Silo Effect: Adopting a Holistic Approach to Charter Remedies,” in Taking Remedies Seriously (2009)

“Allocating Damages Caused by Violations of the Charter: The Relevance of American Constitutional Remedies Jurisprudence,” 24 Nat'l J. Const. L. 121 (2009)

“Bankruptcy Pro Bono Legal Assistance Programs: An Update,” 16 Norton J. Bankr. L. & Prac. 397 (with Peter C. Alexander, 2007)

Catalog of Pro Bono Bankruptcy Programs and Resources, Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law (co-edited with Peter C. Alexander under a grant from the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Endowment for Education and the American College of Bankruptcy, 2007)