Lauren (Washburn ’03) Rogers has joined the faculty at Michigan State University College of Law as a teaching fellow in the school’s Housing Justice Clinic, integrating her love of learning with the dream of ensuring that the law serves families, and not the other way around.
Mrs. Rogers was enchanted by the Discussion Method on display at Thomas Aquinas College from her very first visit as a prospective student in 1998. “I was on the edge of my seat, and it took all my willpower not to join the discussions I visited,” she recalls. That love of discussion sustained her through four years at the College and nurtured an interest in a possible future in law. She worked at a Los Angeles law firm and took the LSAT in the first year after graduation, and intended to attend law school shortly thereafter. “Then I met my now-husband, Jason,” she laughs, “and decided to defer law school.”
The couple welcomed four children in the intervening years, but Mrs. Rogers never relinquished the dream of a legal career. If anything, her desire increased, as she and her husband confronted the difficulties of raising a family in an often hostile culture, against whose predations the law is not always a reliable ally. Mrs. Rogers’ dream of law school became a concrete possibility in 2015, when several College alumni referred her to Phil Pucillo at MSU College of Law, who encouraged her to apply. She did — and was in for a pleasant surprise. “I was blessed to be given a full tuition scholarship,” she says. “It felt like the door was opening wide!”
On the other side of that door, Mrs. Rogers found herself in oddly familiar territory. “Law schools, at least in the first year, traditionally rely on the Socratic Method, which many students were encountering for the first time,” she says. “But thanks to the day-in, day-out classroom experience at TAC, where I was encouraged to have an opinion and to thoughtfully defend it, but also to encounter resistance with grace, I was well-trained in discussion.” Law school, as it happens, was a manageable challenge, even for an active mother of four, thanks to extensive support from her friends and family.
Mrs. Rogers graduated from MSU and passed the bar exam in 2018 with flying colors, “but with a lot of what I call family debt.” She soon began paying off that debt, finding work at Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM), with a schedule well-suited to her responsibilities as a wife and mother. Fortunately, LSSCM was also an opportunity to help families in need — her original dream. “We tried to ensure that they had stable housing and income,” she says. “A family becoming homeless often triggers CPS involvement, which can separate families.”
In January, Mrs. Rogers began working as a teaching fellow at the Housing Justice Clinic at MSU College of Law, a natural extension of her work for poor families at LSSCM. “We are teaching small classes of students how to prepare to be good lawyers and supervising them as they practice law with real cases,” she explains. “Life experience and having a family is a huge asset for how I approach things.” With her penchant for discussion and her zeal for justice, Mrs. Rogers will prove a boon to MSU’s law students — and, in turn, to the attorneys of tomorrow.