Kaitlin M Locke
Berrien County Public Defender Office
What Does Your Company/Organization Do?
We provide representation for indigent individuals throughout the community. We protect the rights of people who have found themselves in the criminal justice system and are unable to hire an attorney.
I completed law school in 2 years and was awarded the Leadership Award for the work I did throughout my time at WMU Cooley Law. I completed my undergrad studies in Cape Town, South Africa. And, I am considered the “best Aunt” according to my 7 nieces and nephews-which is the greatest accomplishment ever.
What else do you hope to accomplish by the age of 40?
40 is coming faster than I ever thought! I hope to continue to grow as a person and as an attorney. Eventually, I would like to become a Judge but I don’t believe that will be in the next two years. I have so much to learn still. Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing people who teach me and mentor me daily.
Portage Northern High School- Diploma
Kalamazoo Valley Community College- Associates of Liberal Arts
Western Michigan University- Bachelors in Criminal Justice / Minor in Communications
WMU Cooley Law School- Juris Doctor
St. Joseph, MI
Where were you born?
Grand Rapids, MI
What was your first job?
Corn de-tasseling at 13 years old. It was the only job that I could get at 13 and my big brothers were doing it. I always wanted to do what they were doing, even if it involved getting up before the sun, long hours, bugs, injuries, and manual labor.
Best advice you ever got?
You can be scared, that’s ok. Don’t ever let that fear hold you back.
Who inspires you most?
My Grammy Sunshine, Patricia Mae Rathburn Locke. She is the most amazing woman who has such an incredible resilience. She is an amazing poet and loves the written word. I definitely take after her in our love of books. She is tough as nails and yet still so soft and gentle. It is an amazing balance. Her heart is huge. She truly LOVES. And, once she has you in her grasp she will never let go. I am beyond blessed to have her. She is my sunshine.
That one thing about you we’d be most surprised to learn.
I absolutely hate shoes! If I could be barefoot all the time I would. I take my shoes off as often as possible.
What do you love to do in your downtime?
I love to read. I love live music. I go to as many shows as I can and try to make it to at least one festival a year. And spending time outdoors, when Michigan allows it.
What book are you reading now?
Shook One: Anxiey Playing Tricks on Me– Charlamagne Tha God
Volunteer activity you love the most.
Really anything to do with kids. I love sports and the outdoors. I have coached and been a referee for soccer. That was probably my favorite.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
I truly believe in people. There are so many people who need assistance. Whether that is in the form of clothing and food or jobs or simply in a listening ear. People want to be heard and want to believe that their feelings and opinions matter. It is incredible the change in tone and demeanor of a person after they feel like someone heard them, like someone honestly listened.
I am motivated to give back because this is an amazing community. Made up of beautiful people who work daily to improve and assist others. I’m happy to work next to them and for them.
What Superpower would you most love to have?
I would love to be able to fly. The freedom that would come with soaring through the trees and the clouds would be amazing. I imagine that it would be an instant stress reliever.
What does this honor most mean to you?
I am extremely shocked and humbled that someone thought of me for this. I don’t do my job for any kind of recognition or praise. I do it because money should never play a role in a person’s Constitutional rights, their freedom, and their liberty. Yet, we see if every day.
I am thankful that this will bring more awareness to the work of Public Defenders as a whole and the work that is going on right here in this community with our PD office. There has been a great change in the last 2.5 years since our office opened, in the lives of people going through this criminal justice system. I am so passionate about my career. It is exhausting and emotionally draining and yet so incredibly rewarding. I am confident that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I truly hope my clients feel they are being heard and that I have their back. They need to know that someone is fighting for them and that I will continue to fight until I am no longer able.