At the same time, she and her husband of 20 years, Salem District Court Judge Robert Brennan were raising three daughters. The girls now range in age from 12 to 18. One entire wall of Rooney’s office is covered with handmade artwork her daughters made for her, including flowers and a portrait of a family cat. A beach scene depicts her family with the entire Brennan clan, which also includes her father-in-law, former Lawrence District Court Judge Thomas Brennan.
Rooney said she understands the role of the working mother well, noting she couldn’t have excelled in her career without support, including a nanny that remains a close part of her family today. “If you don’t have a support system, one side or the other will suffer,” she said.
“It’s not easy. There are always those competing thoughts. ‘Am I cheating on my job? Am I cheating on my children?’ she said. “I think that’s why you see a lot of women, at a certain point, stop practicing law.”
Rooney said occasionally brings her children to work with her. On the flip side, she has a strict rule about bringing work stress outside the courthouse.
“I don’t take it home,” she said.
Rooney said she starts each day with a 5:30 a.m. workout, a routine that helps her focus and relieves stress. Luna nutrition bars are always stashed in her desk for “the crash in the afternoon,” she said. An animal lover, Rooney and her family have a black lab and three cats.
“And the more I can be outdoors the better. That’s why these windows are good,” she said, pointing to the large windows in her third-floor office.
As a judge, Rooney she looks at “whole person,” something that often gets overlooked. People end up in court for “a lot of different circumstances. It’s something that’s easy to lose sight of.”