Feature Stories UMass Law: Jeremie Rogers, JD '24: Police officer earns law degree and plans to work with youth

Feature Stories UMass Law: Jeremie Rogers, JD '24: Police officer earns law degree and plans to work with youth
Jeremie Rogers, JD '24: Police officer earns law degree and plans to work with youth

Part-time law student is grateful for the support of the UMass Law community as he commuted from Martha's Vineyard

The road to a Juris Doctor degree is different for many law students. Some enroll full-time right from college or work before beginning their legal education. For part-time law students, many of whom are juggling work, parenting, and other responsibilities, the journey can be more diverse. 

That is certainly the case for Jeremie Rogers, JD '24, who worked full-time as a police officer on Martha's Vineyard while commuting to UMass Law's part-time evening/weekend program. (The law school also offers a part-time day program.) During his 4 1/2 years in law school, he not only juggled a full-time job and raising two young children, getting to class and home often depended on the whims of the weather and ferry schedule for this 4th-generation Vineyard resident. 

But Rogers emphasizes that completing his law degree would not have been possible without the support of the law school faculty, staff, and Assistant Dean of Students Julie Cahill, all of whom understood his schedule and accommodated him as much as possible. 

A sergeant on the West Tisbury Police Department, 1 of 6 departments on the island, Rogers serves as a court and field training officer; he is also trained as a school resource officer. 

On many days Rogers worked the night shift from 6 pm-2 am, slept a bit, took care of his son during the day, and then took the ferry to Woods Hole where he kept a car, and drove to UMass Law’s Dartmouth campus for an evening class. And, if class ran late and he missed the last ferry home, he would sleep at a relative's house and get up at 4:45 am to take the first ferry back to the island to either care for his son or work a day shift. "I got about 3 hours of sleep/night all through law school," he joked. 

Sgt. Jeremie Rogers, JD '24 of the West Tisbury, MA Police Department with his family.

UMass Law experience 

Rogers realized he had a proclivity for languages and thought about becoming a French teacher.  But a criminal justice class he took at Northeastern University changed his career path to policing. He graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in criminal justice leadership.

Why did you decide to go to law school?  

"At a previous job, I was a member of a union that negotiated with the town. I was frustrated not knowing more about labor negotiations. This, in part, drove me to learn more about labor and contract law and seek my law degree one day." 

Was the part-time program a good fit for your schedule?  

"I worked full-time throughout law school and had a young child as I was beginning school, and then a second while still in school. Part-time was the only option for me to achieve my degree as I had responsibilities at home as well. 

"The law school was very understanding and accommodating to my predicament, which made it possible for me to achieve my degree. Professors understood if I had to leave early to catch the last ferry due to the weather. They were fantastic. I can't say enough about Dean Cahill. She arranged for meetings to be online and helped me through law school."

During his first semester at UMass Law, Rogers commuted 3 days/week and then 2 days/week for the remainder of his legal education. 

How did you balance law school, work, and parenting? 

"It was a delicate mix of understanding at my work with carefully planned time off to make sure that I could work around my class schedule.  Also, it required working around my wife's work schedule and leaning on family to help with the children when we were both working or I was at school." 

How was your experience learning from, and working with, faculty at UMass Law?  

"Honestly the faculty and staff made this possible for me; they were kind, understanding, and accommodating to my needs and, without them, especially the wonderful administration, I wouldn't have been able to do this. In turn, I made sure to apply myself in the best way possible to show my appreciation and dedication, which resulted in graduating with honors." 

Rogers credits Adjunct Professor and Chief Diversity Officer David Gomes and Professors Dwight Duncan and Justine Dunlap for their teaching style and support.  

"My go-to was Brenda Shepherd in the Law Enrollment Center. She was pivotal for everything. Everyone I worked with in the administrative offices was fantastic." 

 What have you enjoyed most about UMass Law? 

"Although I enjoyed studying law, I think the best part about it was the relationships I was able to foster with my professors. They were personable and approachable, which made the environment much more conducive to learning. 

"Part-time students make up a small group, so there was a nice camaraderie in the evening program. We were all working professionally for the most part. We took it seriously." 

While in law school, Rogers interned with UMass Law alumna Holly Smith, JD '16 in her solo family law practice in Marston Mills. "It was a great experience. I was able to go to court and it really helped me to understand family law. She kept me on longer after my internship ended."

Has there been an experience that has been especially rewarding that made an impact on your future career? 

"My internship, through my family law class, actually changed my planned work trajectory and I intend on pursuing work in that area. When I started law school, I was firmly of the belief that I would concentrate only on contract/employment law. My time with the Immigration Law Clinic gave me the inclination to investigate that area of law as there is a large immigrant population at home with very few options for relatively simple legal problems. I can work with a local attorney and community service group to establish access to assistance." 

Walking dogs on Martha's Vineyard
Jeremie Rogers walks his dogs on a Martha's Vineyard beach. He is a 4th-generation resident of the idyllic island located 7 miles off the Massachusetts coast.

Future plans include balancing police and law careers

 After 4 ½ years, Rogers completed his law classes in December 2023 and passed the bar exam this February. A ranked officer with 15 years of service, he plans to continue his police career while building a law practice. 

 Do you plan to specialize in an area of law? 

"I plan to start out practicing family law in Falmouth and work my way into immigration law when I have the time. Family law gives me the same sense of helping people that I have as a school resource officer. I will work in divorce and child protection. Being able to help a child stuck in the middle of a bad situation speaks to my personality. I've seen the other side as a police officer." 

What advice would you give future law students or those who are considering attending law school part-time?  

"If you attend law school part-time, it is just as critical to apply yourself and stay focused.  Also, communicate with your teachers and get to know the staff around the building as they can help you through this process, especially on some days when you feel overwhelmed. The part-time program will be full of like-minded people who understand your situation. Form a good bond with your part-time cohort as they may become some of the best resources you will have through school." 

Is there a point when you realized that this is what you were meant to do? 

"It was during our bar prep studies that I started to see the bigger picture and how the various areas of law interconnected and worked together, something that is not easy to see when you're spreading classes out years apart and are singularly focused on one final at a time. This sense of clarity made me feel as though this was the right choice for me."