MLS Helps Federal Public Defender Investigator Think Like a Lawyer
Chemeka Goss-Kater became an investigator for the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California for a simple reason: She loves to help people.
“When people get into a legal situation – federal, county or city – they are scared,” says Goss-Kater, a first year Master of Science in Legal Studies (MLS) student. “And it’s good to know that someone will be there for you regardless of the outcome.”
As an investigator, Goss-Kater acts as an advocate, speaking up for those who don’t have a legal voice and providing critical support for deputy federal public defenders. But despite working as an investigator for nearly two decades, Goss-Kater felt that she could do more to refine her abilities: She wanted to gain a more formal understanding of criminal law. By doing so, Goss-Kater believes she can better serve the Federal Public Defender’s Office as a whole. That’s why she enrolled in Loyola Law School’s MLS Criminal Justice Specialization – one of six areas of focus available.
“The whole MLS program is based around thinking like a lawyer, which is exactly what I needed,” she says. As an investigator, Goss-Kater spends her days working closely with paralegals and attorneys, gathering critical evidence and helping her team form crucial defense strategies. She sees her MLS degree as a way to bridge the communication gap between herself and the attorneys she serves. “I wanted to learn their language so we could do our job even better,” she says.
Goss-Kater notes that the MLS program has provided her with a great deal of insight regarding the intricacies of criminal law. In the program, she works side-by-side with law students from other degree programs, providing her an opportunity to not only network but also test her newfound criminal law knowledge with aspiring attorneys. Additionally, the Criminal Justice Specialization provides a roadmap for courses to best fulfill her goals.
“It’s helped me to build up my confidence level,” she says. “Having to work alongside these other law students, and being called out in class and offering my thoughts, has been really helpful,” she says.
Goss-Kater notes that because the program was designed for working professionals, she has been able to balance both her professional and educational responsibilities. Moreover, she’s impressing her supervisors by employing classrooms insights at the office. “I can see the missing pieces that I couldn’t quite conceptualize before. I see how it fits together now,” she says.
The MLS program has helped Goss-Kater develop the skills and tools needed to excel at her job more effectively.