Civic minded: Law student sets sights on public interest law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Before heading to law school, Lauren Pereny worked with several nonprofit organizations, including working with at-risk youth and their families in Boston.

“Band-Aids were being applied to fix huge problems,” she said. “Although those ‘Band-Aids’ are so necessary in the everyday life of so many people, I became interested in addressing structural injustices and attend law school.”

Pereny, who holds an undergraduate degree in social sciences from Michigan State University, chose Wayne State University  Law School for its location in the heart of Detroit.

“The ability to be so close to large firms, both federal and state courts, and have access to a large alumni network was important to me,” she said.

Now in her 2L year at Wayne Law, Pereny got a fighting chance at applying more than ‘”Band-Aids” when she was awarded a Peggy Browning Fellowship at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit, a national nonprofit, public-interest law center.

“Sugar Law uses the law to fight for people in dynamic and interesting ways,” she said. “I spent my summer researching important employment and constitutional issues. I enjoyed learning how to use the law in a way to help people — not hurt them.”

Pereny, who grew up in a politically minded household where the family had real conversations about social issues, is drawn to public interest law.

“I believe having a law degree is a privilege, and we should use that privilege for good,” she said. “I would love to be a public defender and uphold one's constitutional right to representation.”

She is an executive board member of the school’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild that has provided a strong support system for her, and she participates in the school’s Mock Trial team.

“NLG has introduced me to a number of amazing attorneys working on important issues in Metro Detroit,” she said. “It's great being able to bring issues we care about to Wayne State.”

This year, Pereny is participating in the school’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.

“It’s been an amazing experience to have autonomy over my own clients while under the supervision of an attorney,” she said. “Immigration law is so very different from other types of law so it’s been a great learning experience.”

A native of Madison Heights, Pereny now makes her home in the Motor City, where she enjoys cooking and reading fiction.

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