Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan Member Spotlight

What is your name?

Jennifer O. Pernas

Where do you work, and what is your position there?

I own my law firm, J. Pernas Law PLC. Prior to going into private practice, I was a corporate officer for an H-1B dependent group with offices in the U.S. and India.

Where did you attend law school, and when did you graduate?

I attended the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and graduated in 2013.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Worldwide issues and international affairs always interested me. When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to work with people from different parts of the world. Thankfully, I get to travel the world every day each time I work on a new case file. It is a privilege and a great source of joy to be an immigration attorney.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

The women in my family. I come from a long line of independent, successful, educated women. Growing up in Colombia and seeing my older cousins and aunts be civil engineers, accountants, business administrators, and business owners is an immense source of pride and inspiration. Seeing them excel in their respective fields taught me that I could be anything I wanted.

What has been the biggest accomplishment/victory in your legal career?

I was a founding member of the first LGBTQ clinical project in a Midwestern law school, Indiana University’s LGBT Legal Project. Under our clinical professor Seth Lahn’s guidance and mentorship and in collaboration with Indiana Equality, we released More Than Just a Couple: 614 Reasons Why Marriage Equality Matters in Indiana. This was a comprehensive statutory survey of marriage-related rights and responsibilities, cited by U.S. Judge Richard Young in striking down Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, Baskin v. Bogan, 12 F. Supp. 3d 1144, 1161 (S.D. Ind.), aff’d, 766 F.3d 648 (7th Cir. 2014). Arguably, these appellate circuit decisions helped paved the way to marriage equality in our country. I will forever be grateful to have done my part as a committed ally to the community to advance this just cause.

What is your idea of a great day?

My idea of a great day is a balanced one: a day where I am very productive in the office, I go home to my toddler early enough to take him to the park, and am able to spend time with my loved ones.

What are two things about you many people might not know?

I am a huge anime fan and prefer a hole-in-the wall restaurant, food trucks, and/or street food rather than spending my evening at a high-end restaurant that serves bland food. I am not saying that clients who bring me delicious food get preferential treatment, but perhaps I am.

What organization or cause are you passionate about?

LGBTQ rights and autism awareness are two causes that are very near and dear to my heart. We live in a world that is sometimes brutal to anyone who does not fit commonly-held perceptions of normality.  Everyone has the right to be regarded as a valued member of society.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Attend any pre-law school courses that teach a person how to brief a case and manage study time.