Shelby County Public Defender’s Office Recognized for Unique Approach to Public Outreach

Twenty PowerPoint slides and one attorney.

Generally not a recipe for applause and national recognition.

Josh Spickler presenting at Ignite 4.
Josh Spickler presenting at Ignite 4.


But that’s exactly what happened after the Shelby County Public Defender’s office utilized the Ignite Memphis format to tell its story.

Public defender Josh Spickler gave his presentation about “Justice for a New Generation” at the spring edition of Ignite Memphis 4. In five minutes and with just 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, Spickler outlined the plans of the Shelby County Public Defender’s office to close the “justice gap.”

The justice gap generally describes the inequites in our community that make it difficult for the poor to secure zealous legal counsel.

Spickler’s presentation at Ignite Memphis won the People’s Choice award.

The Shelby County Public Defender’s office has also used the Ignite presentation before community groups to help illustrate issues of mass incarceration and advocate for comprehensive justice reform in Shelby County.

Ignite, along with the office’s creation of the JustCity blog and use of Twitter and Facebook earned Shelby County an invitation to present at a national justice conference in New York City this summer. The office was chosen for its innovative and low-cost efforts to educate and communicate with the public.

Spickler gave his Ignite presentation at the Brennan Center’s Community-Oriented Public Defense Network Conference.  See this Storify of the conference created  by the SCPDO. The law office’s efforts were also highlighted in this manual that showcases how government agencies can set up communication campaigns quickly and efficiently.

If your organization has something innovative to share – we urge you to enlist the power of Ignite! Launch Memphis and Memphis Connect are holding Ignite Memphis 5 on October 25th, 2012.  The deadline for submission is October 5, 2012.

Learn more about the justice gap, Justice for a New Generation, and other initiatiatives of the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office on