LAWRENCE — Sitting in her new office above downtown Lawrence, Judge Lynn Rooney smiles when asked if she wanted to be a judge when she grew up.
“No .... It’s really something you aspire to. I didn’t think it would happen. There a lot of lawyers, but not a lot of judges,” she said.
But seven years after Rooney was named to the bench, her path has taken her to the Fenton Judicial Center where she is now the First Justice of Lawrence District Court. The working mother comes to the Immigrant City after spending five years in Lowell District Court.
As First Justice, Rooney, 48, is essentially in charge of the district court, overseeing four other judges and working closely with the clerk magistrate and chief probation officer.
Just a little over a month into her new role, Rooney said she hasn’t made any big changes, but is “sort of collecting, listening to any concerns and trying to start a dialogue.”
Soon, she plans to visit local police departments and introduce herself.
“People here work very hard and have been so incredibly welcoming to me. But there are always ways to do things better,” she said.
The daughter of a police chief, Rooney’s brother John is seven years older than her. After John Rooney went to law school and became a prosecutor, it sparked her own interest in a legal career. “I was just fascinated by it,” she said.
As a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Rooney worked in a criminal defense clinic. After graduating from Boston College law school, Rooney went to work as a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. She was involved in high profile cases, including the sexual molestation convictions of defrocked Catholic priests John Geoghan and Paul Shanley, and the murder trial against British nanny Louise Woodward.