Episode 18 – I Need a Mentor, And I Need One Now!



Happy New Year! We are kicking off the new year in celebration of National Mentorship Month, by discussing  the importance of mentorship among public defenders. The Gideon’s Promise Mentorship program was created in 2018 to provide public defenders with a community of peers they could rely on for support, encouragement and inspiration.

Co-hosts Jonathan Rapping and Ilham Askia sat down with two amazing public defenders within our community who have truly benefited from this important program. Listen in as attorneys Jemila Lea of the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, and Katherine (Kat) Racz Lake of the Office of the Public Defender, Atlanta Judicial Circuit, speak about the benefits of mentorship within their professional and personal lives.



A Fort Worth, Texas native, Jemila Lea received her juris doctor from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in the spring of 2013.

In 2015 she joined the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender representing clients in civil mental health proceedings. During her first year with the office, she visited various local mental health hospitals, representing client’s in civil commitments, and forced medication hearings.

She was selected to be a member of the second class of Future Indigent Defense Leaders of Texas to create the next generation of highly skilled, client-centered Texas attorneys to represent persons who cannot afford counsel. This partnership between the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC), the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association (TCDLA), and the Harris County Public Defender’s Office (HCPDO) offers unparalleled indigent defense training, mentoring, and leadership opportunities. As a part of an exclusive statewide team dedicated to zealous representation, she received a guaranteed enrollment into Gideon’s Promise.


Kat Racz Lake grew up in Savannah, Georgia.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in 2010 and her J.D. from the UGA School of Law in 2013. She has been a public defender in Fulton County, GA for over five years. Kat feels a deep sense of purpose in her work.

She loves fighting for her clients and telling their often neglected stories.

She takes her losses personally. She is a recovering perfectionist. She can do a pull-up. Kat lives with her husband, Brian, and dog, Cooper, in the Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta. In her spare time, Kat is a singer-songwriter, a yogi, and a bird watcher.



  • Why is the Gideon’s Promise Mentorship program so important?
  • How has the Mentorship program changed since the pandemic?
  • How can mentors help public defenders overcome the challenges and pressures of this criminal un-just system?

Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast can be found on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud,  YouTube and on the Gideon’s Promise website.



Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice (2020) by Jonathan Rapping.