Professor Jim McLaughlin retires after 36 years, scholarship established in his honor

RALEIGH —  Professor Jim McLaughlin is a renowned legal expert, who has taught property law and wills and trusts law at Campbell Law School for nearly four decades. Now it’s time to celebrate his legacy as he wraps up his career as a law professor and author surrounded by former and current students, colleagues and the many others he has touched throughout his storied legal career, which included serving as acting dean of the law school from 1999-2000. Due to COVID-19, an in-person celebration scheduled for April has been postponed until fall.

In his role as chair of the Trusts Drafting committee of the General Statutes Commission of North Carolina, McLaughlin was heavily involved in the drafting of legislation in the field of estate planning.  He has served as an expert witness in numerous cases in both areas of his expertise. And he has made numerous Continuing Legal Education presentations to attorneys as well as surveyors, on both national and local levels. Prior to coming to Campbell Law, he taught at Pepperdine  University’s law school.

In addition to teaching aspiring lawyers for 36 years, Professor McLaughlin co-authored the most recent edition of the “Wiggins, The Law of Wills and Trusts in North Carolina”  — the leading treatises on property law and the law of wills, trusts and administration of estates in the Old North State — with Professor Richard Bowser. 

In 1965, Dr. Norman Wiggins published the first edition of “Wills and the Administration of Trusts in North Carolina.”  The book was the product of his SJD work at Columbia University.  He, with the help of others along the way, continued to update the book and occasionally publish new editions until the late 1990s when the task was too much for him to handle in his busy schedule.  At that time, he turned over the work of updating and revising the book to Campbell Law Professors McLaughlin and Bowser.  They have been doing that work ever since, according to Professor Bowser.

The newest edition of that book — now called “Wiggins, The Law of Wills and Trusts in North Carolina” —  was published earlier this year by Thomson Reuters.  With this new edition that spans nearly two decades of updates the authors made “some pretty radical changes” says  Professor Bowser – changes that he and Professor McLaughlin are convinced improve the text. 

The professors removed material related to administration of estates and focused instead on wills and trusts .  They also created more, but shorter chapters, in an effort to make it easier for lawyers to find the information that they need.  And finally, they eliminated some of the historical materials that had been part of the earlier editions. At the same time, Bowser says, they tried to retain the historical materials from which the doctrines of the law of wills and trusts proceeded. 

“It wasn’t an easy task,” Professor McLaughlin added, “but we do think it was worth effort.  We hope that lawyers in North Carolina find it to be helpful.”

As part of his lasting legacy at Campbell Law School, Dean J. Rich Leonard asks that you please consider giving a gift to the newly established James B. McLaughlin Scholarship Fund that will support future generations of law students. “In my seven years here, Jim has been my stalwart friend and a source of candid wisdom,” says Dean Leonard.  “I know how much he means to many of you so I hope you will be generous.”

The scholarship is made possible by a generous gift from Professor McLaughlin’s family, who wanted to celebrate not only their father’s legacy in legal education but also help future lawyers. 

You can make a gift by giving a check to the Dean, the Director of Development David Bohm or online at  Under the “Please give my gift to” box, select “Law” from the first dropdown menu and James McLaughlin Scholarship from the second drop-down menu.

Campbell Law would like to share memories of Professor “Jimmy Mac” on our website and on social media. Please send your anecdotes, photos, etc. to our Communications and Marketing Director Lisa Snedeker at

McLaughlin earned his J.D. from Mercer University in 1973 and his B.S.Ed. from Georgia Southern University in 1968. His retirement plans included spoiling his wife, Diane, and playing more golf with his sons, Cole and Rhett, and his grandchildren.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law celebrated 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.