By Anna Lothson
Interpreting the law isn't always black and white, but the reasons Mary Margaret Rowland chose to study law are simple. She loves the law and the practice of it.
Recently, Rowland's career aspirations hit the next level as she was selected to fill one of two upcoming vacancies as a U.S. Magistrate Judge. The Oak Park resident and will be sworn in Oct. 1.
"I'm just so honored that the district court judges have appointed me to this position," she said. Rowland applied in 2007 and wasn't selected, but when the vacancy announcement was made, she put her name in the running. "I've always been interested in serving as a judge."
In January, over 65 individuals applied for the open positions. A magistrate judge merit selection panel reviewed the qualifications of the applicants and made recommendations to the district judges of the court, who interviewed each of the recommended finalists.
Rowland received her law degree from the University of Chicago. She is a partner with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ldt. in Chicago. Prior to entering private practice, she spent 10 years in the federal defender program in the Northern District of Illinois, where she gained experience in all aspects of federal criminal cases, including bond hearings, suppression motions, plea negotiations, trials, and appeals. From 1988 until 1990, she served as a law clerk to Julian Abele Cook Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
She said what attracts her to the judgeship is being able to look at the law from an analytical and neutral position. The field is ever changing and no day is like any other, Rowland said.
"Mostly, I'm just excited," she said. "I'm looking forward to the amount of variety the cases present. They present different areas of the law. Every day is different, every day is interesting."
The Northern District of Illinois has 12 active U.S. magistrate judges in Chicago and one in Rockford. The new magistrate judges will be headquartered in the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago.
"We look forward to welcoming each of these outstanding attorneys as United States Magistrate Judges on our court. Our 2012 Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel did an excellent job of screening the applicants," Chief Judge James Holderman wrote in a release about the selection. "Each of the recommended finalists was well-qualified to serve as a United States Magistrate Judge."