The jury sat still, all eyes transfixed on the lawyer standing before them in a navy blue pinstripe three-piece suit and regimental striped tie. “Ladies and gentleman,” he continued . . . “my client will forever suffer, each day of her life, every waking minute, from the time she awakens in the morning until her eyes close each night her head rests on her pillow.”
The lawyer turned away from the jury, now focusing his full attention on his client seated behind the dark mahogany table with a tabletop sign reading, Plaintiff’s Counsel. And as their eyes locked together between lawyer and client, tears streamed down her cheeks before she could wipe them away. The lawyer continued with his gaze still upon her and began walking toward her, “Never will my client have real joy in her life, never will she be able to give the kind of joy she promised her husband on the altar of their wedding day 18 years ago, or to her 5 children the good Lord blessed her with over the years . . . now she just battles to get through each day, fighting the relentless foe that attacks her body, the foe that never relents, that never retreats, that never ceases to surrender . . . her eternal enemy on earth which possesses her frail and weak body, and kidnaps her mind and spirit with an evil force stronger than any demon . . . her never ending pain.”
The lawyer was now standing directly behind his client with his palms resting on top of her shoulders, and looking back toward the jury and the judge seated behind the bench rhetorically asked, “And the law’s justice, what does the law tell us to do, tell you the jury of her peers what you must do? Isn’t this the same justice that exists in the heart of every man and woman who knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong? Indeed, the law’s justice in this courtroom cries out for this mother, this wife, this servant of the almighty and living God in Heaven, that she must be made whole, made new, made to be fully remediated and restored in every possible way the law so allows and indeed demands for every deserving citizen of this land. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the only just, true and rightful verdict for her.”
That lawyer in the courtroom was my father. A father who not only inspired me to become a lawyer, but to become a lawyer willing to sacrifice every ounce of passion and energy for his clients . . . even those without the means to fight and speak up for themselves. A lawyer willing to go to war in the courtroom against billion dollar insurance companies, big corporate interests and anyone who would try to avoid responsibility for harming others.
I was in the courtroom that day so many years ago to hear my father’s closing argument to the jury. I was only 12 or 13 years old, but it made an impact on me that I’ll never forget. I knew at that moment then, as much as I now know after being a lawyer for over 30 years, that all the values and core beliefs embodied by my Dad: his tenacity, creativity, wit, dedication, compassion, love, and most of all his unshakable belief in himself and your clients, made him a great lawyer and a person his clients knew beyond all doubt that they were not alone and that he would walk with them each and every step of the way as their unshakable advocate.
Guy Perenich passed away on May 11, 2018 after a long illness. He was 93 years old. He raised 9 children. He instilled in each of his kids all the good and decent qualities a father should teach his children. He taught us to love and respect each other, to forgive those that transgress against us, to share our joys, talents and possessions with others, and to give and abundantly serve others less fortunate with our time, talent and treasure.
Today I am proud to say that those core values my father instilled in me make me who I am today, and the lawyer my clients know me to be. My two brothers, Tim and Terence, also share the same core beliefs, which is why we became partners nine years ago. Together, we carry on his legacy through our law firm.
My Dad will be dearly missed. He touched the lives of many people, including his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and of the clients he had the honor and privilege of representing. Thank you, Dad, for all that you gave me and for all of your prayers. Thank you for teaching me by your example the most important things and how to be a better lawyer and better person in my life. I cannot wait until we are reunited again together in Heaven.
Gregory J. Perenich, Esquire