Raised on the southeast side of the city of Detroit by her extended family, Judge Qiana Denise Lillard earned a scholarship to attend the Roeper School where she graduated in 1994. After High School, Judge Lillard attended the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana where she earned a BA in English in 1998 and a JD in 2001. While at Notre Dame Judge Lillard was very active in various student organizations and worked as a law clerk in the University of Notre Dame Office of General Counsel.
Upon graduation from law school in 2001, Judge Lillard returned to metropolitan Detroit where she began her legal career working in the legal department at The Detroit Edison Company, presently known as DTE Energy. Later she worked as an associate attorney for Michigan Basic Property Insurance Association. Judge Lillard also worked for several years in the claims legal department of AAA Michigan where she focused on subrogation, uninsured motorist arbitration, first party PIP and RBI litigation, as well as third party auto negligence and homeowners tort liability cases.
In 2005 Judge Lillard joined the Wayne County Prosecutors office. During her 8 years career as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney she worked in the general trials division and Special Victims Unit in the areas of elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and as a member of the sexual assault team. As a specially assigned prosecutor in the special victims unit , Judge Lillard handled high-profile cases involving serial rapists, police officers charged with sexual assault, child homicides and other highly publicized cases.
Judge Lillard is a lifelong member of Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit where she has previously served as an elder. She has been a member of numerous organizations, including the Women Lawyers Association, the Association of Defense Trial Counsel, and the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan. She is currently a member of the Wolverine Bar Association and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan and a director of the Notre Dame Club of Detroit.
Judge Lillard was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Third Circuit Court in Wayne County on August 7, 2013. She began her Judicial career in Wayne County Third Circuit Court in the Family Division -Juvenile at Lincoln Hall of Justice. There, she presided over matters involving juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect. Currently Judge Lillard serves in the Wayne County Third Circuit Court Criminal Division in Frank Murphy Hall of Justice where she presides over felony trials and district court appeals. Judge Lillard is also member of the Criminal Division Drug Court team and handles cases from both the Urban Drug Court and Adult Drug Court programs.