“Thirty years ago I was a student at this point of time finishing Orientation. I didn’t know what I was going to get myself into. To hear what you’ve done in one semester is inspiration,” stated Nathan A. Neal (’87, Howard) to Marcelo Perez (’16, AU) at a reception held on August 26th celebrating the start of the new semester at LSIC.
Neal presented Perez with the 2016 Nathan A. Neal Award for Outstanding Advocacy, established in 2012 in partnership with U.S. Senator Paul Strauss and named after this former long-serving supervising attorney, alum, and great friend to LSIC. (SEE PHOTO GALLERY.)
In his remarks, Neal urged students to take advantage of their opportunity at LSIC:
“This is the practice of law in one of the finest jurisdictions and that is the District of Columbia. For the students who are starting today, you will get no finer and better experience than the LSIC program. Take on as many cases as you can, and work with as many people as you can. The rewards are fantastic.”
Perez, speaking for all LSIC grads, shared a lesson learned with the incoming class:
“Nothing that you do is too small. Everything has an impact. Even if it’s just to get a continuance for two weeks can make an impact. Sometimes those two weeks are all somebody needs to get the money so that they’re not evicted.”
Supervising Attorney Gabriella Lewis-White commended Perez for his genuine concern and willingness to take on difficult cases. One involved a client who was refused a two-day extension for an eviction scheduled for the following day. On the morning of her eviction, the client tendered the money owed to her landlord. But the landlord refused the money, claiming it wasn’t a sufficient amount, and consequently the client was evicted. Through skillful advocacy, Perez filed suit for wrongful eviction and the case was resolved through a settlement agreement.
In another case, a landlord attempted to evict a couple and their three children, alleging they were the cause of a property being a drug haven. Perez defended that the action was in retaliation to the couple for reporting housing code violations of the property. A DC trial jury found that no haven ever existed on the property and ordered the family may remain in their home.
On a light-hearted note, Perez added that the judge gave some good advice to his client’s landlord:
“You should get a really good lawyer because LSIC knows their stuff and is always prepared.”
Knowing your stuff has evidently stuck with Perez — inspiring him to do his best work for his clients and not let them down. We wish Marcelo a long and successful career as a litigation attorney!
Our appreciation to DC Superior Court Judge Henry Greene and Board Member Jennifer Lyman, DC Bar, Office of Bar Counsel, for joining us at the event.
The Nathan A. Neal Award recognizes a civil division student attorney for outstanding advocacy in representing underserved clients and in developing professional relationships with clients, colleagues, and members of the bench and bar. Previous recipients are Alfredo Vasquez (2011-12), Deaven DeMarco (2012-13), Nelson Carrasco (2013-14), Robert D. Goodis (2014-15), and Teresa E. Iannaconi (2014-15).
LSIC thanks Washington Trophy Center (WTC) for kindly engraving our plaque this year. WTC is DC’s premier awards and recognition company serving the DMV for 40 years.