Justice McCormack is a graduate of the New York University Law School, where she was a Root-Tilden scholar and won the Anne Petluck Poses Prize in Clinical Advocacy. She spent the first five years of her legal career in New York, first with the Legal Aid Society and then at the Office of the Appellate Defender, representing over 1,000 clients in New York's trial and appellate courts. In 1996, she became a faculty fellow at the Yale Law School.
In 1998, she joined the University of Michigan Law School faculty. At Michigan Law, she taught criminal law, legal ethics, and various clinical courses. Her scholarship focused on the professional benefits of clinical legal education. She also created new clinics at the law school, including a Domestic Violence Clinic and a Pediatric Health Advocacy Clinic.
In 2002, she was made Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. Responsible for the continuing development of the law school’s practical education, she continued to expand the clinical offerings at Michigan Law School, launching a Mediation Clinic, a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, an International Transactions Clinic, a Human Trafficking Clinic, a Juvenile Justice Clinic, and an Entrepreneurship Clinic. In her capacity as professor and associate dean, she conducted and supervised many types of civil and criminal litigation at all levels of the state and federal courts. The University of Michigan Law School’s clinical programs are now recognized nationally as one of the best places to be trained as a lawyer.
In 2008, then-Associate Dean McCormack cofounded the Michigan Innocence Clinic, in which students represent wrongfully convicted Michiganders. The clinic has exonerated seven people so far, and has shined a light on the important justice issues underlying wrongful conviction. In 2010, McCormack won the “Justice for All” Award for the Clinic’s work, and in 2011 the Washtenaw County Bar Association gave her the “Patriot Award.” In 2012, she won the Cooley Law School’s “Distinguished Brief Award” for the best brief filed in the Michigan Supreme Court during the term. Also in 2012, the Justice Caucus presented her with the Millie Jeffrey Award and the Washtenaw County Women Lawyers recognized her with the Mary Foster Award. In 2013, Justice McCormack was honored with the Hon. Kaye Tertzag Purple Sport Coat Award. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee recognized her with its Guardian of Justice Award in 2014.
Justice McCormack currently chairs the Supreme Court's Limited English Proficiency Implementation Advisory Committee and participates with a number of professional organizations including the American Bar Association Access to Justice committee, the American Bar Association Litigation Journal's Board of Editors, the American Bar Association Working Group on Pro Bono and Public Service, the advisory board of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, the judicial elections committee of the National Association of Women Judges, the advisory board of the Michigan Civil Rights Academy, and serves as a board member of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. In 2013, Justice McCormack was elected to The American Law Institute, the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. In 2014, Justice McCormack was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology to a newly-created National Commission on Forensic Science. The Commission's charge is to work to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system and work to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for formal training and certification.
Justice McCormack is married to Steven Croley, also a lawyer and law professor, currently on leave from the University of Michigan Law School. They have four children attending college and the Ann Arbor public schools, and enjoy frequent family trips to west Michigan.