Chapter and verse: Lawyer writes compelling script to her legal life story

Jaffe attorney Liz Rogers, a graduate of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Detroit Class XXXVII, sits on the advisory board for Sowing Empowerment & Economic Development (SEED).

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Liz Rogers was just 10 years old when she experienced a life-defining moment – thanks to Reader’s Digest, the popular consumer magazine which interestingly enough bills itself as “A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World.”

As a young girl in Highland Park, Rogers was leafing through an edition of the time-honored monthly publication favored by her father when she came across an article about “middle children,” those sandwiched between older and younger siblings.

“The article said something to the effect that middle children had a tendency of getting lost in the shuffle between the first born and the youngest in the family who received more parental attention,” Rogers recalled. “After I read that, I was determined not to be the second best in the eyes of my parents or others. I also wanted to stand out – in a good way, of course.”

Now, 22 years into a legal career, Rogers has certainly written a positive script to her life story, earning bachelor and law degrees from the University of Michigan en route to becoming the first lawyer in her family as a partner at Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss based in Southfield. 

Admittedly, said Rogers, it was for years a “difficult journey,” as she worked full time while attending two local community colleges before transferring to U-M as a second-semester sophomore.

“I grew up in Highland Park in a family of humble means, where going to college wasn’t an option unless I worked my way through school,” said Rogers, a 1990 product of Highland Park High School. “Juggling work with school was a challenge, especially since I knew I would have to achieve very good grades if I wanted to go to law school.”

Her work life at U-M would broaden her education even more as she learned some valuable lessons along the way as part of the University of Michigan Telefund team that mans the phones to drum up support for scholarship programs at the Big Ten school.

“It was a rite of passage to work there,” Rogers said of the student-led fund-raising program where she worked from 6-10 o’clock many weekday evenings. “It actually was a fun experience that helped with my professional development and where I learned not to take rejection personally.”

She also learned that the willingness of U-M alums to give generously often depended on how the football or basketball teams were faring that year.

“Those we called were generally in a much better mood if the teams were having good seasons. If things were not going so well, they weren’t the least bit hesitant to let us hear all about it,” Rogers said with a laugh. 

Rogers, who joined Jaffe in 2021, began her legal career with Lewis & Munday in Detroit, which hired her fresh out of U-M Law School.  

“I met David Lewis at a BLSA (Black Law Student Association) event in law school and Reuben Munday when I interviewed with the firm. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity they gave me and for the confidence they instilled in me.”

She spent three years with the firm in its real estate practice group before moving to New York. During her time in the Empire State, Rogers passed the New York bar exam before relocating to Oregon and then back to Michigan where she spent the next five years working for Miller Canfield.

Rogers then took a leap of faith, opening her own practice, handling real estate matters and general business and civil litigation cases.

“I obtained my real estate broker’s license during that time so that I could offer more services to some of my real estate clients,” Rogers said.

Her expertise in that field led to an opportunity with the City of Detroit, where she spent three years as “counsel at the table” to the zoning board while also offering advice on transactions involving public-private partnerships, regulatory requirements, and risk mitigation.

In April 2021, Rogers joined Jaffe as a partner in its real estate practice group, calling it a “terrific opportunity to be part of a team” that handles complex transactions for large corporations and closely-held businesses.

Over the past decade, Rogers has devoted much of her free time to mentoring high school students interested in the law.

“Mentoring brings me such joy, especially when I’m able to help cultivate an interest in a possible career field,” said Rogers, noting that “I care more about doing the work that makes a difference in the lives of young people.”

She points to two students in particular, one of whom is the son of a dear friend of hers from college, Eileen. His name is Anthony and during his senior year of high school last winter, Rogers arranged an opportunity for him to see a judge in action.

“In February of this year and prior to his transition to the Michigan Court of Appeals’ bench, Judge Noah Hood kindly agreed to let Anthony and me virtually observe the proceedings in his courtroom during the morning docket,” Rogers said.

“Anthony is bright, creative, and kind. He also is interested in law school,” Rogers noted. “Ultimately whether he pursues that path is his choice, but I had the opportunity to put him (virtually) inside of a courtroom with a judge who looks like him so that he could see (literally) what the possibilities are for his life. I know from experience that kind of meaningful interaction matters. That’s why I do it.”

While in New Orleans in 2019, Rogers met a young woman, Samantha Lopez, who was working as a bartender while making plans to attend law school in hopes of someday become a judge. Rogers posted a photo of the two of them on Facebook to “mark this point in history” for the aspiring attorney.

“When I met Samantha in NOLA, she was vibrant and funny and smart,” Rogers recalled of the 2019 chance encounter. “It was obvious to me that she was going places. Since our picture, she has finished law school. This May, she sat for and recently learned that she’d passed the Louisiana bar exam. She is now a defense attorney for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. Her story is all about her determination, drive, and hard work – not me.”

Rogers undoubtedly inherited her self-effacing nature from her parents, Priscilla and Milton. Her mother is a Detroit native and an alumna of Southwestern High School who now lives in Ohio. Her late father was a factory worker who eventually became a pastor of a Detroit church, instilling in his three children the importance of faith and the desire to help others.

“They were role models, for sure, and impressed upon my siblings (Milton Jr. and Elasha) and me the need to give back,” Rogers said. “It was a wonderful teaching.”



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