Prominent Wichita Falls, Texas attorney Harold Rogers told the Examiner today on Saturday, January 30, 2016 he was excited his grandson is the ninth member of his family to become a lawyer this year. Grandson Paul Rogers Knowlton, who graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 2015, became a member of the prestigious Houston law firm Andrews and Kurth after passing his Texas bar exam. Rogers was clearly proud of his grandson’s accomplishment as he asked, “Do you know how he signed his letter when he told us he graduated from law school?” He paused before answering his own question, “No. 9.”
Rogers, who has long been known as one of the top tax attorneys in the country, is justifiably proud of his family’s legal heritage. He said from his office in the Hamilton Building, “My grandfather Ivan Deforrest Rogers was the first lawyer in the family. Back in 1892 when he became a lawyer, people didn’t go to law school. They read for the law under the supervision of another lawyer and then took the bar exam. That’s what my grandfather did.”
His grandfather’s two sons Forrest Monroe Rogers and Whitson Golton Rogers became lawyers two and three in the family. Harold DeForrest Rogers and his twin brother Gerald Ivan Rogers became numbers four and five as sons of Forrest Monroe Rogers.
Harold Rogers’ son Michael Forrest Rogers is the sixth attorney in the family. He works for another elite law firm known as Gardere Wynn in Houston. Lawyers seven and eight are Kipp Alan Rogers and Jeffrey Alden Rogers who are sons of Gerald Ivan Rogers.
“So I’ve now produced two of the lawyers in the family between my son and grandson,” Rogers said, leaning back in his chair and smiling. Rogers’ son Michael starred on the basketball court for Wichita Falls High School. He broke the Coyotes’ school record for most points in a game with 44. His proud dad said that year’s team advanced into the playoffs where they defeated Abilene and Amarillo before losing in the next round to El Paso. Michael inherited some of his dad’s basketball abilities as Harold won Honorable Mention All-American honors when he was captain of an outstanding Oklahoma State basketball team under legendary coach Henry Iba.
Before becoming acclaimed as one of the top tax lawyers, Harold Rogers worked for the Internal Revenue Service as Chief Counsel for seven years. He said it was his dad who pointed him in the direction of tax law in 1953 when he observed “it looks like there’s going to be a lot of tax work in the future.”
But it was the famous FlowBoy case which literally put Rogers on the tax law map around the nation. He said he actually won four cases to establish that the FlowBoy machinery should not be hit with an excise tax. He first won a bench trial and then a jury trial in Oklahoma City to establish the fact the FlowBoy was designed to “build a highway” and not to “haul on a highway.” Rogers recalls the opposing attorney objected to every question he asked in the second trial. The judge overruled every objection. The judge finally advised his opponent that he didn’t need to object anymore. He would allow the record to show an objection to each question and overrule each one. But on the very next question the lawyer objected yet again. The judge then had the court reporter type up the words to his opponent, “Don’t object anymore.” As a result of those verdicts people from other parts of the country who owned FlowBoys started contacting Rogers seeking his legal expertise.
Because the Oklahoma City cases only applied in that jurisdiction, a client from Buffalo, New York, hired the hotshot Wichita Falls tax attorney to travel all the way up there to once again defend the FlowBoy machinery from taxation. Chalk up victory number three for the Wichitan who was actually born in Wellington, Kansas.
Victory number four came in Denver, Colorado where Rogers completed his sweep of the FlowBoy battles with the IRS in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Another landmark victory for the legendary Wichita Falls attorney came in a case where a will was written in Odessa, Texas and was later destroyed. The man whose estate would become a client of Rogers was a single bachelor who never drilled a dry well, according to Rogers. He had no wife or children to leave his fortune to so the attorney in Odessa drew up a will leaving everything to charities. The client would name each well he drilled as Child #1, Child #2 and Child #3, etc. He would have a sign erected beside each well which had a date under it for each Child.
He later went back to Ardmore, Oklahoma and told a lawyer there he wanted to revoke his original will leaving everything to charities. He asked this lawyer, “How do I revoke my will?” The Ardmore attorney told him, “One way is to tear it up in my presence which constitutes a revocation.” The client did just that.
Complications arose back in Odessa because the client didn’t tell anyone he’d revoked the first will. The bank was the executor and filed a copy of the will for probate. The case made the major newspapers in Oklahoma City and other publications around the state. The lawyer in Ardmore read one of the articles and called Harold Rogers and told him he was present when the first will was ripped up. He testified to that fact as a witness called by Rogers in court. A later will in which the client left his entire estate to his two sisters was determined to be valid.
Rogers remembers that the judge called a timeout in the middle of the case when this new will was presented and asked the Odessa lawyers what he should do. Rogers said the attorneys told the judge, “Rule against us. We can’t win on appeal.”
Rogers recalls he had a lot against him in that case as he was in the opposing lawyers hometown, the charity’s hometown as well as the fact the judge was from Odessa.
Despite all his accomplishments, Rogers is clearly proudest of his family. He has a sheet of paper in which he lists the names of all the lawyers in his family. The family’s legal dynasty spans several decades beginning with his grandfather Ivan DeForrest Rogers who began practicing law in 1892 after studying for the law. The amazing legal family continued its tradition in 1920 with Whitson Golton Rogers who graduated from Yale. Forrest Monroe Rogers, a graduate of the University of Kansas Law School, kept things going in 1922 when he earned his law license.
Harold DeForrest Rogers graduated from the University of Denver Law School and began his extraordinary career in tax law in 1956. He and twin brother Gerald Ivan Rogers who began his career in 1955 after graduating from the University of Kansas Law School did their part to keep the legal dynasty going by having four descendants who became lawyers. Harrold’s son Michael Forrest Rogers graduated from the University of Texas Law School in Austin in 1999 and became a lawyer in Houston. Harold’s grandson Paul Rogers Knowlton from the University of Texas Law School in 2015 is in Houston at Andrews & Kurth.
Harold’s twin Gerald Ivan Rogers also did his part to extend the dynasty by having two sons who became lawyers. Kipp Alan Rogers graduated from Harvard Law School in 1980. Jeffery Alden Rogers graduated in 1987 from the University of Tulsa Law School.
But Harold Rogers points with pride to the fact his grandson is the No. 9 lawyer in the family. He created a sort of family tree of lawyers with “Doctors of Jurisprudence 9” emblazoned across the top. But that may soon have to be updated.
The Wichita Falls lawyer said when the family started discussing the fact Paul was the ninth lawyer in the family, seventeen year old Lily Rogers, who is a junior in high school, announced to the family she wanted to be a lawyer! She is the daughter of John Rogers, a graduate and current professor at Yale University So in a few years Rogers may have to update his records of the Rogers family lawyers.
Harold and his wife Dottie plan to re-locate to Houston where they will be closer geographically to their son, daughter and grandchildren.. Harold Rogers has left his signature on the community of Wichita Falls, Texas during his extraordinary legal career and he will be missed.