Second generation attorney goes to bat for the Motor City

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By Jeanine Matlow
Legal News

It seems David Pernick, a partner at Booth Patterson, P.C. in Waterford, seemingly was destined to follow his career path based on an early exposure to the legal profession. 

“It was a family influence,” says Pernick whose parents were lawyers and ultimately judges, while other relatives currently practice law or were in law enforcement. 

His mother, Patricia Boyle, would ultimately become a Michigan Supreme Court justice and his stepfather, Terrance Boyle, a judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court.

“I have a lot of admiration and respect for them. They were so brilliant and so good at what they did, it seemed effortless for them, but I know it wasn’t,” he says. “They were pretty formidable. As a professional for 20 years, to be with them when they were professionals was just icing on the cake. They were fantastic people and parents.”

Pernick, who was a history major in college, says the law was also a good fit because of his interest in history and political science.

When asked about the challenges in his chosen field, he says, “I believe there is a lack of civility in the profession compounded by a general lack of civility in society. I am concerned by the way lawyers treat other lawyers in the industry. Just like in society, there is an increased lack of general courtesy toward one another.”

On the flip side, come the rewards.

“There are wonderful, intelligent and dedicated practitioners I’ve met over the years and with whom I presently work, both colleagues and clients,” says Pernick.

“Additionally, there is that feeling that I’ve genuinely helped someone. At the end of the day, when you put in multiple hours a day and multiple days a week, you should sense that you have some positive effect. It’s why I do it.”

Among the highlights of his career was the time he was in the same courtroom with his brother, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick, who later called to commend him on his work.

In his spare time, Pernick volunteers as a tour guide for Preservation Detroit, taking people through notable areas like Midtown and the Cultural Center. This gig hits all the right buttons for his personal interests: history, old architecture and storytelling.

“You don’t have to tear everything down,” he says. “You can reinforce the bones as an historic site for future generations.”

More recently, he began working with a relatively new nonprofit organization he heard about through word-of-mouth. It all started when volunteers from Manna Community Meal at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit noticed their guests were wearing the same clothes for weeks or months at a time with little or no access to basic hygiene facilities. So, in January of 2015, they came together to form Corner Shower and Laundry.

Currently, the organization, along with its community partners, is in the process of transforming the church basement into a shower and laundry space for Manna Meal Community guests. They hope the work will be completed sometime this year.

Janet Ray, core committee member and church member, says that anyone who has gone camping or experienced a power outage knows that dignity and hygiene go hand in hand.

“Your whole spirit changes,” she says about the basic need for a shower and laundry. “We can help change the world with a clean pair of socks.” 

Though their fund-raising efforts are ongoing, they’ve been able to demo the area and the architectural drawings are almost complete.  

Ray says some people, like Pernick, who volunteers his legal services, are able to donate their time, while others are able to donate products or be a financial resource.

“Everyone is welcome to the table,” she says.

As for Pernick, it sounds like Ray thinks the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“What makes David unique is his humanity,” she says. “He’s a man of integrity and honesty.  He has a gentle presence and a sense of humor and he’s humble.”
 

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