By John Ryan | June 7, 2020 | Lawyer Limelights, Plaintiff Consumer Limelights
Photo by Michelle Nolan.
Successful personal injury practices are built on individuals and their families trusting lawyers with their only chance of earning a measure of justice after catastrophic events.
For Larry Rogers Jr., that relationship of trust runs both ways: Believing in your clients is also the best way to dramatically improve their lives. Rogers, who has earned record-setting results for clients, thrives not just on these relationships but also on the diverse range of issues he needs to master before litigating them.
“I have represented people from all walks of life in all types of cases, and fortunately, I have been able to secure significant results for my clients that have allowed them to return to some semblance of normalcy often after great tragedy and loss,” Rogers says.
The Chicago-based partner of Power Rogers also counts himself lucky for the mentors who helped shape his career – founding partners Joe Power and Larry Rogers Sr., who is also his father. The renowned litigation firm has earned billions of dollars for plaintiffs.
Lawdragon: Can you describe for our readers the mix of work you do within your practice?
Larry Rogers Jr: I am a trial lawyer that has had the honor, the privilege, and the awesome responsibility of representing severely injured persons or the families of persons killed as a result of negligent or wrongful conduct. My practice has allowed me to represent people from all walks of life from the homeless to the wealthy in their fight for justice. I have represented clients whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of medical malpractice, businesses that placed profits over safety, and overzealous police officers that have abused their authority resulting in citizens’ constitutional rights being violated resulting in them being maimed or even killed.
LD: How did you first become interested in representing injured people and their families?
LRJ: I was introduced to this area of practice by my father, Larry Rogers Sr., who pursued a second career as an attorney around the time I was graduating from high school. In speaking with him about the cases he handled, and the people he was able to help, I developed an interest in the law in general, and litigation more specifically. Once I learned that I could help victims whose lives had been shattered by the wrongful conduct of another by arguing their cases before a jury, I was bitten by the bug. There is no greater feeling than taking on the plight of a wrongfully victimized individual and using the law to secure the justice they deserve.
LD: What else do you find satisfying about it?
LRJ: I find it incredibly satisfying to meet with a person who has been unfairly victimized and have them entrust you with the pursuit of their case. You develop a relationship with the person. You talk, meet, and text. You learn about them and their family, and you become vested in holding those who ravaged their lives accountable. There is nothing more professionally gratifying than to have a client thank you for believing in them and taking their case when no one else would listen. It is incredibly humbling to know that you can effect real change in someone’s life simply by believing in them and fighting with them for the justice that they deserve.
LD: Out of all the work you’ve done in your career, what would you say is the most interesting matter you’ve handled?
LRJ: This is a tough question to answer because one of the things I enjoy most about being a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer is the learning. When a client comes to you and presents a set of facts, proving their case may require you to learn something you knew nothing about before.
I have had clients whose cases required that I learn about the transportation industry and how international shipping companies utilize containers from ships, to trains, to tractor trailers, and how errors in the operation resulted in tragedy. I have had clients whose cases required that I learn how neurosurgery progressed from open neurosurgical procedures to treat brain aneurysms to the delivery of stents into the brain by maneuvering tiny catheters through the blood vessels. I have had clients who suffered strokes during surgery whose cases required that I learn how anesthesiologists are supposed to manage blood pressure to ensure adequate blood flow and perfusion to the brain. I have had clients who were rendered paralyzed and confined to wheelchairs because corporate greed put productivity and profit over consumer safety.
Each of these cases has been interesting to me and has consumed me while I was handling them. And I’ve walked away from each with a renewed love for what I do and who I am able to help doing it.
LD: Is there a recent professional achievement of which you’re particularly proud?
LRJ: I was recently invited to become a member of The Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only organization made up of 100 of the top plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys from across the country. To be invited into membership you must have achieved certain successes as a trial attorney and their vetting is rigorous. I was fortunate enough to have been inducted and it has been incredibly humbling to become a part of an organization whose lawyers have an unwavering commitment to fighting for victims and victims’ rights before a jury.
LD: What trends are you are seeing in your practice?
LRJ: I have seen an increase in the role of technology and social media in proving and disproving defenses. With smartphones in virtually everyone’s hands, you are virtually certain to be able to secure some photographs, videos, or social media posts that shed a light on exactly how a tragedy occurred. I have been able to utilize red light camera video to prove a truck driver’s speed and negligence, bodycam video to prove the use of excessive force by a police officer, and Facebook and social media posts to prove violations of corporate policies that were denied under oath.
LD: What about a recent case that you’ve handled that made an impact on you?
LRJ: I recently obtained a record result for a young woman who presented to a hospital with complaints of chest pain weeks after giving birth. Despite significant complaints, the physicians evaluating her in the emergency department treated her symptoms without ordering the diagnostic tests needed to determine the cause of her pain. Tragically, as she waited for hours for the cause of her symptoms to be evaluated by CT scan, she arrested. It was later determined that she died of an aortic aneurysm that could have been diagnosed and successfully treated had a CT scan been ordered and she been taken to surgery.
I also recently handled a matter involving a lovely woman who was successfully treated for breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and post-mastectomy reconstructive surgery. Post-operatively, she had complaints of abdominal pain that were largely dismissed and ignored. After days of complaints, her physicians finally decided to perform a CT scan of her abdomen. The test revealed a blood clot was blocking the blood supply to her intestines resulting in an ischemic and progressively dying bowel. She ultimately had to have a majority of her digestive system removed due to tissue death and necrosis. We were able to establish that if her complaints were not ignored and a CT scan was performed earlier the blood clot could have been diagnosed and removed before her bowel became ischemic. I was able to successfully prove her case, obtain a recovery for her and despite being told she would not survive more than a matter of months after the incident, my wife and I attended her wedding anniversary with 300 of her closest friends last December.
LD: What are some of the challenges of successfully litigating a case like that?
LRJ: Some of the challenges associated with pursuit of the case involving the woman with the ischemic bowel centered on the rarity of the condition she suffered from. It is uncommon to see a patient develop a clot in their aortic arch that prevents the perfusion of blood to the bowel. Additionally, the facility involved was a reputable facility with well qualified clinicians that you would not expect to ignore the signs and symptoms voiced by the patient for as long as they were ignored.
However, based upon information that was uncovered during discovery in the case, I was able to identify that a younger physician involved in the patient’s care in the days before the diagnosis was experiencing personal challenges that led to him no longer practicing medicine not long after the care at issue – for reasons that we believe and were prepared to prove – likely affected the quality of care rendered to the client. We were prepared to present radiologists, surgeons, and vascular experts to prove that with timely diagnosis and treatment, the client would have had little if any injury, instead of the devastating injury she sustained as a result of the negligent care provided.
The client had consulted with another attorney who was unable to identify the experts necessary to prove the case. It was professionally rewarding to take on her case, and secure the testimony and opinions of experts needed to prove that what happened to her was preventable and should not have occurred. Since resolving her case, she has been able to secure the assistance she needs at home to allow her to live a better quality of life with her husband and family.
LD: Is there a specific lesson you took from the case?
LRJ: The lesson to learn from this and much of the work we do as plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys is how you can dramatically change a person’s life by believing in them and dedicating your time, resources, and talents toward their quest for justice. The former clients who have lunch or dinner with you years after their cases are over, or call to tell you of their marriages or anniversaries are a testament to the impact you have had on their lives. There is nothing more rewarding and professionally gratifying than to have a client who has suffered so much appreciate your efforts with a genuine, sincere and heartfelt “Thank You” and your knowing that you made a difference in their lives.
LD: Did any experience from your undergraduate work push you towards a career in the law?
LRJ: I attended the University of California, Davis, where I studied Managerial Economics. While there, my father, Larry Rogers Sr. was in the first few years of his second career and, as I was deciding what I wanted to do after college, his stories about the cases he was handling and people he was helping sparked my interest in how you could use the law to help people.
I was exposed by my father to the significant impact you could make on society and the life of others by representing victims as a trial lawyer who devoted himself or herself to leveling the playing field and fighting for the underdog. I recall one of the first significant cases my father was involved with involved a corporation that manufactured baby formula. For cost-saving purposes, the company decided to remove an ingredient from the baby formula. It was ultimately determined that the removal of the ingredient deprived the children of a much needed nutrient and its absence detrimentally affected their development. Learning that case and the broad ramifications that representing those clients had on their lives and the lives of other children who had taken that formula piqued my interest in pursuing a career in the law.
LD: Did you have any jobs between undergrad and law school?
LRJ: From high school on through college, I always worked. In high school, I worked at a small amusement park. In college, I worked a variety of jobs from the college dining hall to local restaurants and the Hunt’s Tomato Plant. I went from graduating at the University of California in the summer of 1990 to attending law school at IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law in the fall of 1990. I did not have any meaningful career or job between the two.
LD: Is there a specific reason why you chose your law school over another law school?
LRJ: I attended college in Northern California. Attending IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law allowed me to return to Chicago, where I was born and where a majority of my family lived.
LD: When did you know you wanted to be a trial lawyer helping injured people?
LRJ: By the time I finished my first year of law school, I knew that plaintiffs’ personal injury law was what I wanted to do. I had been exposed to my father’s work before attending law school, and during my first year, I worked as a law clerk at a competitor, and now good friend’s firm. There I was more exposed to what plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers do for people and then I knew it was the career I wanted to pursue. I enjoyed my Trial Advocacy course in law school and was fortunate enough to obtain the American Jurisprudence award in my class.
LD: Do you have any advice now for current law school students?
LRJ: I would encourage and advise law students to make sure you study hard and learn to research and write like a lawyer. Once you graduate and secure your first job, the lessons on how to become a lawyer and practice law begin. If you work hard and devote yourself to mastering your craft, becoming a lawyer can be the most rewarding profession you could ever be blessed to become a part of.
LD: What was it like to practice with your father? Did you have other mentors?
LRJ: Having the opportunity to practice law with and try cases with my father has unquestionably been immensely helpful in shaping the course of my professional life. I call him the ultimate “reasonable man” in his approach and the level of professionalism and poise he carries both in his professional and in his personal life. He has taught me that being a lawyer is not a 9-to-5 job; it is who you are. To be successful at it, you must live it, breathe it, and love it, and he practices what he preaches. He is the same man no matter whether he is in the courtroom, or in the barbershop.
Working with my father also gave me the opportunity to learn from Joe Power. Joe has a dogged tenacity and work ethic like no other. While he is one of the most accomplished lawyers in our field, he is also one of the humblest men you will ever meet. These men have helped me learn what it means to be a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer and to fight to the end for your client and what is right.
And, while not professional mentors, I have to acknowledge the powerful role my mother, Judith, played for shaping me to become the man I am today. She raised me to appreciate the importance of education, hard work, and caring for others, all of which are at the heart of a good plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer.
LD: How has your practice changed since the early part of your career?
LRJ: My practice has changed since the early part of my career in that I have developed a level of comfort and confidence that allows me to take on any fight I believe is worth fighting, no matter how seemingly difficult. As a result of gaining more courtroom and real-life experience, I believe I have learned to evaluate people, evaluate truth, and appreciate genuineness. I try to take cases that allow me to work with and for people who I believe in and who believe in me. It makes the work much more rewarding and the fight much more worthwhile.
LD: Can you share a few lawyers you have come up against whom you admire, and why?
LRJ: I admire and respect lawyers who are “straight shooters” and are focused on getting the work done as opposed to engaging in gamesmanship. It is the way I was taught that good lawyers practice law. Lawyers like Mark Burden, John McGary, Amy Kane, Amy Pleuss, and Chris Daddino come to mind as good lawyers who know what they are doing and are effective advocates and opponents.
LD: Is there a matter or client in your career that stands out as a “favorite” or one that is more memorable for certain reasons?
LRJ: I do not have a favorite client. I have fond memories of many, many clients. Two clients and now friends who I have fond memories of are Mr. Heng and Mr. Flowers. Both of these men were married to women who suffered catastrophic injuries and they were the most loving and caring husbands to their wives that you could imagine. I learned from each of them what it means to be a committed and devoted husband and spouse. Another client that stands out is Mr. Etheredge who, despite suffering one of the most horrific injuries you could imagine, he is not angry, resentful or vengeful, but rather every day, carries one of the biggest smiles on his face you could ever imagine. These are just a few of many, many clients that have left me with fond memories about life.
LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer? Or, how do you think others see you?
LRJ: I strive to be a combination of reasonable, tenacious, and genuine because I believe that jurors want and need to hear evidence from someone who is a dogged advocate for truth.
LD: What are some of the challenges you face in your current leadership roles?
LRJ: I am currently a partner at Power Rogers and incoming president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. As a partner at our firm and incoming president, my responsibilities extend well beyond just handling cases. The fight for our clients not only includes preparing and presenting their cases before a jury, but also includes fighting for fairness in federal and state legislatures, fighting to have their cases heard during crises like that presented by Covid-19, and helping them navigate through challenges they face every day while dealing with their circumstance. While the demands can seem endless, I appreciate that what comes with the privilege of being a lawyer is an awesome responsibility to serve. I appreciate my role and cherish the opportunity to serve my firm and my profession.
LD: Can you share some strategic plans for your firm in the coming months?
LRJ: In the coming months, our firm will actively work with leaders of other firms and bar associations to assist the courts in their efforts to get the court system back on track after the Covid-19 pandemic. Our firm and all others will be facing a new normal as we learn how to manage our practices and our lives going forward and we will meet the challenges that lie ahead. Our firm has been ranked the top firm in terms of results secured for its clients the last 10 years in a row according to the Chicago Lawyer Settlement Survey. We are very proud of the firm and its accomplishments and look forward to working hard in the coming months and years to continue to serve our clients at the very highest levels.
LD: How is your firm unique?
LRJ: As a firm, Power Rogers concentrates on cases involving the most severely injured who are in need of the very best representation. We will spare no expense fighting for our clients and presenting the very best case that can be presented before a jury. We want to be judged on the relationships we develop with and the results we secure for our clients.
I love what I do and who I am able to do it with. We have a culture within our firm of fighting for victims and victims’ rights and it is an honor to work with like-minded lawyers who all strive for the same thing: fairness and justice for our clients.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?
LRJ: I am husband to a wonderful, bright, and beautiful wife, Ralonda, who I enjoy private dinners, workouts, and vacations with when we can get away. I am the father to four children. My son, Dominique Rogers, is just finishing up law school and I have three daughters: Erin, who is 19; Sydney, who is 18; and Jordan, who is 15. When I’m not working, I enjoy family time doing whatever their hearts desire which ranges from vacationing, to boating, to bike riding, to watching them make TikTok videos.
LD: Can you describe a few pro bono or community activities that are important to you?
LRJ: I work with elected officials on pressing issues that arise and often provide counsel, input or direction. I have had the pleasure of serving as a County Commissioner for the last almost 20 years. As a Commissioner I have the opportunity to work with elected officials, community organizations and citizens throughout Cook County which has been a wonderful opportunity and great experience. I also work with the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest African American Bar Association in the country, and serving as one of its past presidents is one of my most proud accomplishments.
LD: Do you have a favorite book or movie about the justice system?
LRJ: The movie “Marshall” about Thurgood Marshall.
LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now?
LRJ: If I were not a lawyer right now, I would probably want to be one. I cannot imagine doing anything else.