As an assistant district attorney for the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, Jessica Catlin ’13 is pursuing her professional calling. Now, this University of Mobile alumna encourages current students to discover and pursue their own callings.
She helps Dr. Julie Biskner, associate professor of political science, coach UM’s Mock Trial Team and prepare students for regional competition. As a speaker in UM’s new Ram Legacy program for first-generation-to-college students, she urges students to push through challenges and believe in themselves.
“You come back and serve the same school that made you who you are,” she said. “People invested in you, and these people deserved to be invested in.”
Jessica’s devotion to UM students is a direct result of her own experience.
“My teachers knew my name. They knew what was going on in my life, and they cared to ask. They cared to help me when I was struggling,” she said.
She decided to enroll at UM after visiting Biskner’s constitutional law class of about 10 students during a Preview Day and campus tour. She watched the professor push students to think, express opinions, and be prepared to defend them. It was a process that she would experience across the curriculum throughout her academic career.
“It set me up academically. You have to know why you think what you think,” Jessica said.
Other UM experiences pushed and broadened her. She was in RamCorps for three years and became section leader her last year, a walk-on player on the golf team her freshman year, held a work-study job in the computer tech lab, and participated in campus and community life through programs such as UM’s Project Serve campus-wide day of service and being a senator in SGA for the College of Arts and Sciences.
She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was admitted to Cumberland School of Law, graduating with a juris doctor in 2016. After passing the bar exam a few months later and working in the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, she joined the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office in 2017 as an assistant district attorney.
She decided to pursue a career in the law after seeing the difference it made in the life of her oldest brother, James. They were always close, despite his ongoing battle with addiction that resulted in time spent in and out of jail. Jessica said it took James hitting rock bottom and someone in the court system requiring him to get drug treatment in jail that turned his life around.
James came out of prison clean. Unfortunately, James passed away five years later. His ongoing memory continues to inspires Jessica.
“He has been my driving force,” Jessica said. “He never lied to me. He said ‘you’re going to do something better than this.’ I want to try to help people like him, to be hard yet compassionate with the law. Had he not had a prosecutor that would not let him have another chance, so that he had to go through jail and treatment,” he would not have been drug-free all those years.
“He taught me to have a heart for people, but to have the knowledge that people will try to do what is best for them at the time, not what is best for the long run,” she said. James told her to look at the bigger picture.
“My bigger picture in life is to be able to continue on with his memory and his story. He pushed me so hard to get to where I am,” Jessica said. James showed Jessica the positive impact a good lawyer could have on a person’s life.