October 2021 Justinian Member of the Month
Judge Maria McLaughlin
October, 2021 Justinian Member of the Month
Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, now running for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, is a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, first in her family to attend college, single mom, lawyer, judge and appellate judge, Maria McLaughlin personifies the meaning of hard work.
Judge McLaughlin grew up in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia. She received her undergraduate degree from Penn State University and her law degree from Delaware Law School-Widener University. It is fortuitous that during her final year of law school, Judge McLaughlin clerked for the President Judge of the Superior Court, where she is now a member.
Upon graduation from law school and for the next 19 years, Judge McLaughlin worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia and later as Chief of the Child Support Enforcement Unit. She was one of the youngest female Chiefs ever appointed in Philadelphia. Her life was dedicated to protecting the rights of children. As a single mother and judge on the Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of utmost importance to her was continuing to safeguard the rights of children. Judge McLaughlin is known for her commitment and compassion both on and off the bench.
In 2017, Judge McLaughlin led the ticket amongst nine candidates statewide for a seat on the Superior Court. She serves as liaison between the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Superior Court. This role has been crucial throughout the pandemic.
Giving back to the community was instilled in Judge McLaughlin from an early age. As a young child her parents would take her to spend time at a local orphanage, bearing gifts for the holidays, along with making sandwiches and delivering them to the homeless. These are traditions she continues with her own sons.
Throughout her legal career, Judge McLaughlin has dedicated numerous hours off the bench to various organizations, including, anti-violence, anti-drug, re-entry programs and youth organizations. She spent time working with women in prisons, helping them hone their interview skills so they might increase their chances of success outside the prison system.
Judge McLaughlin appears often as an instructor and/or guest speaker on a variety of topics for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, local bar associations around Pennsylvania, primary, middle and high schools, and universities and law schools throughout the Commonwealth.
There is nothing more important to Judge McLaughlin than family. She and her husband, Jonathan Saidel treasure their blended family, sharing six adult children and four grandchildren.
- Elected a judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania 2017
- Elected a judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas 2011
- Chief District Attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office 2002-2011
- Assistant Attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office 1992-2001
- Judicial Law Clerk, Superior Court of Pennsylvania 1991
Memberships and Associations
- Pennsylvania Bar Association
- Philadelphia Bar Association
- National Association of Women Judges
- Justinian Law Society
- Brehon Law Society
- Sons and Daughters of Italy, Roxborough
- Alumni Board of Directors Delaware Law School of Widener University
Awards and Honors
- Delaware Law School of Widener University Alumnus of the Year
- Delaware Law School of Widener University Outstanding Service Award
- Sons and Daughters of Italy Person of the Year
Una Piccola Conversazione
1. How long have you been a member of the Justinian Society?
Approximately 29 years. I joined as a young lawyer in the Philly DA Office
2. Why did you join the Justinian Society, and what do you hope to gain from membership?
Coming from a family of Italian immigrant, my heritage is very important to me. As a young lawyer, I joined the Justinian Society to connect with people who I share cultural values. Over the years I have gained many friendships in my colleagues from the bar and the bench.
3. What do you love or enjoy most about your job?
I love that I am in a position where I can help so many people. I've always been proud to wear my black robe for everyone.
4. How would you define success?
Watching my boys become fine young men they are after raising them as a single mom for so many years. Success starts in my home.
5. Who or what inspires you?
My mom will always be my biggest inspiration. I was very fortunate to have my mom as long as I did and the life lessons, she taught me; I carry with me every day to the bench.
6. If you could choose anyone in history as a mentor, who would you choose and why?
The Notorious RBG! She broke so many glass ceilings in the legal profession. I admired her grit, integrity, and her ability to relate to anyone.
7. Name one valuable lesson you've learned in your life and that you would advise other members to follow?
Never forget where you come from, a lesson I learned from my father. I used it as the theme to my video announcement for the PA Supreme Court.
8. What's something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I was a Penn State cheerleader. We Are!
9. What's the last book you read?
Lisa Scotto line's latest book, Eternal. She is one of my favorite authors and is from Philadelphia.
10. What's your favorite thing about Philadelphia, i.e., sports team, restaurant, museum, history, music etc.?
All of the above, that's why I love Philadelphia! But as an Italian, how could I not love the food. But don't you dare ask me to choose - I'm a candidate for state office.