Meet Precious N. McLaughlin (JD ’22)

portrait of precious mcLaughlin

Precious McLaughlin’s (JD ’22) thesis work on the adverse effects of solitary confinement continues to inspire her drive to eradicate injustice. She is the founder and leader of Wake Forest Law’s Society for Criminal Justice Reform (SCJR) and also serves as a coordinator for the Wake Forest Prison Letters Pro Bono Project.

Where do you call home?

Florence, South Carolina

Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?

Francis Marion University

What year will you graduate from Wake Forest Law?

2022

Describe any experiences prior to law school that influenced your decision to go to law school. Why did it inspire you?

I loved an Advanced Placement (AP) government class I took my senior year in high school, which is what initially piqued my interest in the law and government institutions. In college, I learned about the injustices embedded in our criminal legal system, and that’s when I made the decision to go to law school.

Why did you decide to attend Wake Forest Law?

I primarily decided to attend Wake Forest because of the Innocence and Justice Clinic. Wake Forest is also close to home and has a great reputation nationally.

Describe the Wake Forest community. Provide specific examples if possible.

The Wake Forest community is a family. That’s exactly how I have felt ever since I stepped foot on campus during Accepted Students Day. The Admissions Office staff knew my name as soon as I walked into the building. Professors and staff alike go above and beyond to help students not only academically and professionally, but personally. Professors are invested in students’ well-being in and outside of the classroom.

What is your most memorable experience during law school (thus far)? What makes it so memorable?

“Welcome Week” 1L year was pretty fun! The week was jam-packed with fun activities that allowed me to meet many of my classmates.

Describe any experiences that prepared you and/or made you excited to attend law school.

Working on my thesis in undergrad both prepared me for and made me excited to attend law school. It prepared me in the sense that it required lots of discipline and organization over a span of months, and challenged me to be intellectually curious. My topic was on the adverse effects of solitary confinement on recidivism. It made me excited to attend law school because as I was researching, I discovered tons of case law and agency regulations that govern the use of solitary confinement, and I knew that law school would give me the skills to actually limit the use of the practice in jails and prisons.

What are you involved in outside the classroom (i.e. student organizations, pro bono project, intramural sports, etc.?) How does this add value to your overall law school experience?

I am the president and founder of the Society for Criminal Justice Reform (SCJR) and the coordinator for the Prison Letters Pro Bono Project. I also serve as the activism chair for the American Constitution Society (ACS) and I am a 2L representative for the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO).

Do you have a faculty mentor? If so, who and why? How does it add value to your student experience?

Professor Rabil is my faculty mentor. He’s the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)! I say this not only because of his genuine dedication to racial justice and fairness in the criminal justice system but also because he’s very knowledgeable in all things related to wrongful convictions and death penalty law in North Carolina – an area of expertise that I’m very interested in.

What do you do for fun in Winston-Salem when you aren’t studying?

When I’m not studying, I’m usually somewhere spending money that I don’t have by going shopping and trying new restaurants.

Where do you want your law degree to take you?

A cliche as it may sound, I want my law degree to take me wherever there is injustice. I plan to dedicate my legal career to eradicating poverty, mass incarceration, and the death penalty.