Featured Student Leader: Carley Johansson

Current 2L Carley Johansson grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, before coming to Mizzou as an undergraduate. Before continuing her academic career at the Law School, Johansson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women and Gender Studies and minors in Biological Sciences and American Constitutional Democracy. Johansson says that her experience in the Columbia community as an undergrad played a significant role in her decision to attend Mizzou Law.

“I was able to see firsthand how great this campus community is,” Johansson said. “The admissions staff were incredibly kind and patient in working with me to make sure I had all the answers and confidence I needed to apply and attend law school. Special shout out to Molly – she is a big part of the reason I felt confident choosing Mizzou Law as my home for the next three years.”

As a law student, Johansson has taken an interest in criminal law, focusing on sex crimes, domestic violence and child abuse. She aspires to become a prosecutor for these types of cases and eventually work with a US Attorney office or the FBI on matters of human trafficking.

“My passion is fighting for justice for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence,” Johansson said. “That passion is why I came to law school in the first place, and that is what has kept me here.”

Her passion and work as a law student has led her to be honored by the 2020 Women’s Justice Awards as a recipient of the Leaders of Tomorrow award. Honorees are recognized for their leadership, professionalism and their passion for making a difference in the justice system or legal profession.

“This award means the world to me. It is so humbling to think that my law school community nominated me, and reading the description of the award was particularly striking,” Johansson said. “Knowing that the folks I look up to in my career want to recognize me for passion and dedication to justice is an honor, to say the least.”

During Johansson’s time at Mizzou Law, she says the camaraderie and professionalism among fellow students, as well as the unique and exciting perspectives shared by professors and campus visitors, have been highlights. She also attributes the guidance of many mentors as aiding her success. She says her parents and older sister have always encouraged her in her pursuits. Victims of sexual and gender-based violence like the Silence Breakers have inspired Johansson to continue on her journey of service.

“It is entirely impossible that I would be where I am today without Dr. Carli Conklin’s mentorship,” Johansson said. “Anytime something happens in my life – good or bad – Dr. Conklin is one of the first phone calls I make. She has paved the way for women like me to do this work and be successful. Her support and confidence in me fuel me forward, and I will never stop being grateful for her. I also want to be sure and shout out Melissa Smith of the St. Louis County Prosecutors Office. My first ever real case was one assigned to her, and it went to trial. That experience taught me so much about the intersection of grace and strength when one is a prosecutor because one also must be an effective advocate. From research to brainstorming sessions in her office, Melissa taught me a thousand lessons about what it means to do this kind of work, and to do it well.”

This summer, Johansson will be working as a Rule 13 Certified Intern with the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. After graduating, she hopes to return to the St. Louis area. Outside of her legal aspirations, Johansson loves to watch documentaries, swim, cheer on the St. Louis Blues and spend quality time with her friends and pet python, Rasmus.