Mary W. Rowland, an out lesbian attorney who has argued high-profile civil rights cases, was sworn in as a U.S. Magistrate judge in the Northern District of Illinois Nov. 14. Judge James F. Holderman swore administered the oath in a courtroom filled with her family, friends and supporters.
Rowland is one of few out LGBT people to be appointed to serve as a federal judge in the country. The ceremony was held in the James Benton Parsons Memorial Courtroom at the Dirksen Courthouse downtown.
Rowland's wife Julie Justicz and their children Thomas and Lilly stood by her when she took the oath.
Heather Sawyer, who earlier in the week was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, spoke, as did Matthew Piers and John Murphy.
Rowland, a partner at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., served as a federal defender for a decade, before taking on high-profile civil cases. Rowland's firm had a hand in the winning case against the City of Chicago on behalf of African-American firefighter applicants who alleged discriminatory hiring practices as well as a case against a Sioux Falls, S.D. practice of strip-searching all juvenile detainees.
"I have been involved in what some would call controversial cases," said Rowland.
Rowland is included on the Illinois Super Lawyer list for 2012 and is a member of the board of directors of the Federal Bar Association. She is also a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and has done volunteer work for Lambda Legal.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Rowland graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she met her Justicz. The two were married in California in 2008.