Dream realized: Law grad launches career in prosecutor's office

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News  

Newly minted Western Michigan University Cooley Law School graduate Kwame Rowe enjoys the atmosphere of the courtroom, a place where formality still exists.

“It’s a place where warriors – lawyers – do not use weapons but their minds,” he says. “It’s a place that is analytically stimulating, challenging, and rewarding.”

So it’s no surprise that after graduating May 17, Rowe – who previously clerked for Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Leo Bowman – launched his legal career in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office where he will be an assistant prosecutor trainee until he takes and passes the bar exam.

“What drew me to working as a prosecutor is my desire to serve the community,” he says. “I believe everyone should be held accountable for their actions and by holding people accountable the community becomes a safer and enjoyable place to live and prosper.”

A graduate of Michigan State University James Madison College, Rowe received many honors in law school and was involved with the Oakland County Bar Association Inns of Court, Black Law Student Association, and served as treasurer on the Mock Trial Board, where he enjoyed teaching about trials and evidence.

“The courtroom interests me, and I enjoy spreading my knowledge to beginning law students,” he says. “My philosophy is to be humble, be honest, and work hard at whatever it is you do.”

A fan of the TV law shows “Suits” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” Rowe was drawn to the law by his desire to help people, specifically his family and loved ones.

“At WMU-Cooley Law I enjoyed the faculty and flexible scheduling,” he says. “I also enjoyed having colleagues that were as passionate as I was about the law.”

The son of Donna Rowe and Ellis May, Rowe was born in Detroit and was raised in Detroit and in Pontiac, where he currently makes his home. In his leisure time, he enjoys playing basketball, boxing, reading, playing chess, and watching movies, and spending time with his children, Jayden and Kaniah Rowe.

Rowe also finds time to give back to the community and has been recognized by the Pontiac Optimist Club with the Outstanding Community Service Award.  His volunteer work includes speaking to students at Pontiac High Schools.

“I find it rewarding to service the community because it makes the community safer, and in most cases the service touches the life or lives of other people,” he notes. “It’s rewarding to know you made a difference in someone else’s life even if it’s a small difference.”

Rowe enjoys the diversity of Oakland County that has both one of the poorest cities in Michigan and one of the state’s richest cities.

“There are working class people and millionaires all within the same county,” he says. “Oakland County is simply unique.”

Joan Vestrand, associate dean of the Auburn Hills campus, has known Rowe since he was in 11th grade at Pontiac Northern High School. He was the first student she met on a day she spoke to students about the importance of personal character.  At that time, Rowe was a straight A student, a star athlete, and held three part-time jobs. He also had a dream: to become a lawyer.

“Because of Kwame, Cooley started a Saturday success program at the high school which he religiously attended right up until his graduation,” Vestrand says.

During that time, Cooley Law helped Rowe obtain a personal mentor in the legal field – Chris Johnson, then-general counsel and vice president for General Motors, worked closely with Rowe, following him through his years at MSU and then at Cooley.  In 2007, Rowe was a summer intern in GM’s Street Law program.

“We’re so proud of Kwame in much of the same way a parent would be,” Vestrand adds. “We’ve watched him grow up and realize his dream and we feel so privileged to have had a role in his life.  We know he will achieve great things and great heights in the practice of the law and bring honor to the profession, and we look forward to all of it.”

Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka echoed those sentiments.

“Kwame came to the Auburn Hills campus as a new student demonstrating the same unpretentious demeanor with which he bears himself today,” she says.  “He was never about receiving special attention, instead he spent his time at WMU Cooley working hard, taking no short cuts and paying his dues.  As a result he emerged as a leader and a successful graduate with an excellent job opportunity.

“He is an example to follow in the knowledge that tough study and hard work have more to do with success than good fortune.”