Kathleen E. Croker remembers the day she was flipping through job listings as she was reading a copy of The Economist.
“A lot of them were [for] lawyers, so I thought that would be a good advanced degree,” said Croker, who hails from west St. Louis County.
But her path to the law was more complicated than that. She initially was looking to pursue something in the arena of international affairs.
“I was doing a Fulbright Scholarship in Indonesia, and the consul general there was an attorney who went to [The University of Wisconsin-Madison],” she recalled. “I originally went to school thinking I would join the State Department, and then once I got to school, I fell in love with public-interest law and I changed direction.”
Croker’s direction would take her to law school in Wisconsin where she was a student attorney in the Oxford Federal Project, representing prisoners in both civil and criminal claims that included appeals and post-conviction relief. Later came stints as a public defender and a prosecutor with a focus on crimes of sexual violence. Her current work began in 2016 at Phelps County Family Crisis Services, where she serves as staff attorney helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with criminal cases, orders of protection or custody matters.
“I decided to go to law school because I wanted to help people, and I thought it would be a good career to help people,” Croker said. “I enjoy my job because every day is different. The days go by so fast, and I really feel like I’m making a difference helping people get out of bad situations.”
And that’s just her day job. She also has volunteered for the Constitution Project to introduce high school students to the law. She has co-chaired The Missouri Bar Leadership Academy and is a member of the Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla. She is a mentor attorney for the Kids’ Court in Cuba, Missouri, and is an instructor with the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Training Academy, where she gives lessons to cadets on constitutional and criminal law matters.
In 2009, Croker was named a Public Interest Scholar Award recipient, and the following year she won the Wisconsin Public Interest Law Foundation’s Jackie Macaulay Award for demonstrating exceptional commitment to public interest law.
While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at Webster University, she won the Dean’s Award for Service. She also was named Alumni Undergraduate of the Year in 2003, the same year she founded the campus Habitat for Humanity Club and became its president.
Her nominator writes that it is all part of her “love for public service.”
“Katie is not only an outstanding attorney, but she is also a dedicated community member whose dedication and talents make mid-Missouri a much better place to live,” her nominator wrote.