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Get to know…Samantha McLaughlin, 2L

Samantha McLaughlin, 2L
Woodstock, Illinois

As Samantha McLaughlin pursued her bachelor’s degrees in Ethics & Public Policy and international Relations at the University of Iowa, with an interest in foreign policy analysis, she began to notice something. All of the people who had followed her career path had a Juris Doctor degree.

That’s when McLaughlin knew law school was for her.

“I decided to attend law school because I knew I wanted to affect change at a higher level,” she says. “A JD will allow me to do so.”

McLaughlin has explored a variety of fields during her time at Iowa Law. She hasn’t decided on a specialty, but property and family law have piqued her interest, she says. However, McLaughlin says her favorite course, so far, has been criminal law.

“It made what we were learning feel real,” she says. “A lot of law school can feel theoretical. When we did simulations, it cemented course concepts because we were able to apply them to the facts of a case.”

McLaughlin has pursued opportunities outside of the classroom, as well. She is a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, is involved with the Organization of Women Law Students and Staff and has done a pro bono project each semester. This summer, McLaughlin was an extern at the McHenry County State Attorney’s Office in her hometown of Woodstock, Illinois.

Her pursuit of a variety of activities wouldn’t be possible without a valuable lesson McLaughlin said she learned early on.

“Work life balance is extremely important,” she says. “Without it, law school can and will consume you. My first week of law school I was spending 12-hour days at the school and knew that I could not maintain my sanity if it continued.”

But, McLaughlin said the College of Law is a community and environment where both faculty and fellow students support one another.

“Even though at the end of the semester we’re technically competing against each other for grades, everyone has an, ‘We’re all in this together,’ mentality,” she says. “This sense of community sets Iowa apart.”

After law school, McLaughlin said she plans to travel for six months before committing herself to her legal career. She also plans to volunteer as a guardian ad litem.

Samantha McLaughlin