Marissa McDermott has successfully completed her first political race, becoming the new Lake County Circuit Court Judge. As she transitions from her old job to her new, she is learning a lot, but wishes for one thing: more hours in the day!
McDermott ran her own law firm for the last seven years before running and winning the 2016 race for Lake County Circuit Court Judge. As she and her two magistrates were forced to wind down their present cases and began setting up the court office, McDermott says she has never felt the days fly by so quickly!
“It’s been wonderful. Not only the excitement of getting this court set up the way we like, but the day-to-day work,” she said. “Every day is different. Every case that comes across your desk is a new issue and it really is very interesting. It makes the days go by quickly. It is enjoyable work and I work with a really great team.”
Her family team is great too. McDermott is the wife of Thomas McDermott Jr., the Mayor of Hammond.
“I went to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend and on the first day of school I met this handsome guy named Tom McDermott…,” she said.
The two moved to Hammond soon after, where they have raised four children - two out of school, one in high school, and one in middle school.
Politics and the law are always the topic of conversation in the McDermott household, but for McDermott growing up, that was not the case.
McDermott grew up in New York, raised by her parents who adopted her from Poland when she was 4 years old.
“I didn’t come from a political background at all. The part of the country I grew up in was not political. I never even saw a yard sign in someone’s yard until I came here,” she explained.
McDermott was attracted to the law field due to her love of reading and writing, though the decision to choose that path took some time to decide.
She first graduated with a degree in English and an arts minor from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. She toyed around with becoming a police officer, scoring successfully on police tests, but then decided to apply to law school.
After graduating from Notre Dame, McDermott worked for several years in law firms in Northwest Indiana, specializing in insurance defense law before switching to the plaintiff side.
Then she opened her own practice, focusing on employment law on topics such as wage payments per hour, medical leave, work place injuries, unemployment, and insurance benefits.
“It gave me a chance to speak to a lot of people who needed help, who had been fired or demoted and couldn’t get benefits,” she said. “I really enjoyed that.”
When the Circuit Court Judge position came up, McDermott thought she would transition well into the role.
“I think I can be neutral, weigh in on both sides and render decisions, and I thought I could do that,” she said. “To be fair and be just and that I could take to that role pretty easily.”
Though she was introduced to the political world with her husband’s role as mayor, the race was her first personal foray into the political field.
“I really enjoyed the campaigning and meeting people all over the county,” she said. “I enjoyed going to the little districts and churches and meeting people. It was a lot of fun for me.”
McDermott hoped the voters would think she was the best choice, and she was right. With this position she has been even more immersed in the Northwest Indiana community and the City of Hammond.
Though the McDermott’s jobs call for busy schedules, they also know how to wind down while still staying active.
“We are a pretty active family. We like to bike and jog and we have a pool here so the kids and the dogs like to use it in the summer,” she said. “We do traveling baseball a lot and I am involved in a rugby team in Hammond, though I will probably be winding that down.”
They also stay active in the community, taking advantage of the diversity of the City of Hammond, and the closeness of Chicago.
“We love this little corner of the world,” she said.