McLaughlin discusses new general counsel position, goals at Eastern


Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News

Laura McLaughlin was hired as Eastern’s general counsel this past July. She said this year she will focus on understanding Eastern.

Brooke Schwartz, News Editor

Eastern’s new general counsel, or lead attorney, was named July 30 of this past summer. Lynette Drake, interim vice president for student affairs, said she sat in on interviews for this position and knew what they were looking for in the candidates.

“I was looking for someone who would represent the best interest for the university and for our students on legal matters as well as someone that would be a good collaborative partner on the issues we deal with most frequently in student affairs,” Drake said.

Laura McLaughlin, the new general counsel, said the position consisted of many different legal aspects of the campus.

“My main job is to represent the university and help it meet its business needs legally,” she said. “I do a lot of contract review, I do a lot of business development (and) helping different areas of the institution resolve issues they might have.”

McLaughlin said this first year is about focusing on and learning about Eastern as an institution.

“My goal is to continue to help the university,” she said. “This year is really getting to know Eastern and all of its policies and procedures, the people, and the structure so I can help lead (the campus) better.”

McLaughlin worked as a general counsel before for a law firm in Saint Louis, but she said law is actually her third career.

“I was a research biologist at a medical institution in Saint Louis called the Washington University School of Medicine, and after a while I got a master’s degree in human resource management, and then when I was 39 I started law school,” McLaughlin said.

She said having this varied background helps her at Eastern.

“(Being) a general counsel helps merge my three careers together. I have the science background, I have the human relations background, and of course my legal background,” she said. “I feel that helps me create solutions for the university.”

McLaughlin said she hopes her background will also help students as they decide what to do after Eastern.

“What’s fun is to work with students and help them see that you don’t necessarily have to stay in the career you might start out with,” she said. “Over time… if you want to change what you’re doing, you have the option to do that and take the step.”

She said she hopes students get the most out of their classes and enjoy this time in their lives.

“Going to school was one of the most enjoyable things that I have done, and that’s why I have done it often,” McLaughlin said. “(College) is the time to reflect and really sit back and enjoy what you’re doing at the moment and understanding that, in the future, you can worry about some of this other stuff.”

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].