In Memory of Thomas John McDermott, Jr.
It is with great sadness that the Desert Bar Association announces the passing of Thomas John McDermott, Jr. 1931-2021.
LA QUINTA - Thomas J. McDermott, Jr, who was born and raised in Santa Monica during the Great Depression before becoming a successful Litigator, died Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. He was 90 and still practiced law full time.
Thomas J. McDermott Jr. graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from UCLA. He then served in the United States Army in Ft. Lee and Korea before receiving his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where he was Articles Editor of Law Review, receiving the prestigious Order of the Coif.
Mr. McDermott had been practicing law for 62 years. He practiced in Los Angeles before eventually opening his own firm in Palm Desert. He has represented various clients which include major corporations, government entities, diverse industries and highly respected entertainers including United Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Packard Bell, Baskin Robbins, IBM, Ford Motor Company, Pfizer, Warner Bros. Pictures and hundreds of others.
He helped found and was president of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), the first editor of the Bulletin, president of the UCLA Law Alumni Association, chair of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California, chair of the Lawyer Representatives Coordinating Committee of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, chair of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and chair of the Ninth Circuit Advisory Board. He has written extensively for California Litigation, the publication of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Opera Company and represented it for several years and served on the board of the Los Angeles Music Center Performing Arts Council.
Throughout his career he has been awarded with several distinctions. In 2009 he was the recipient of the prestigious John Frank Award, given once a year by the Ninth Circuit to a lawyer for outstanding service to the federal courts. In 2013 he was inducted into the State Bar of California Litigation Section’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame and in 2020 he was selected for inclusion into the Top Attorneys of North America by The Who’s Who Directories.
On a personal level, Mr. McDermott enjoyed reading, listening to music and performing magic. He was even a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood before moving to the desert. He loved attending operas, musicals and comedies and his favorite authors include James Joyce, Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was an avid book collector and donated his personal collection to the Oviatt Library “Rare Book Room” at California State University, Northridge. He and his former wife helped coordinate the adoption of numerous orphans in Thailand in the mid 1970s. He was a proud member and former President of the La Quinta Rotary Club and even had the Mayor of Palm Desert proclaim Thursday, September 12, 2013 as Thomas J. McDermott Day. He met his wife, Yolanda, during the 1989 Coup D’etat in the Philippines where they were both taken hostage at their Hotel in Manila.
Mr. McDermott is survived by his wife Yolanda, children Kimberly and Kish, grandchildren Trystan and Skylar.