Leadership role: Student views community work as fundamental

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Evon Pervan-Keller grew up around the legal profession, as the son of attorneys Barry F. Keller and Ann Marie Pervan.

“Due to their herculean parenting efforts, they were able to simultaneously play the role of lawyer and parent throughout my whole life,” he said. “Neither hesitated to expose me to both the good and bad of their profession.
However, what they did not do was force me into it.”   

What drew Pervan-Keller to the law was the opportunity to make a difference, an idea demonstrated by his parents regularly.

“For many, a license to practice may function as the means to making the best of intentions into a reality,” he said.    

Now in his 2L year at Detroit Mercy Law, Pervan-Keller enjoys the downtown location.

“Situated in the midst of a city that’s becoming synonymous with change, Detroit Mercy Law’s proximity to this metamorphosis is one of its defining features,” Pervan-Keller said. “Lawyers have played — and will continue to play — a fundamental role in preserving the old as well as welcoming the new in Detroit. Being close to these happenings while studying to be such a lawyer is what I most enjoy.    

“I’ve also been blessed with an excellent group of classmates to learn and grow with as well as a competent faculty and a hard-working staff.”   

The 2L class vice president also serves as president of the American Constitution Society (ACS) and of the St. Thomas More Society.

“Staying involved is fundamental to education as well as personal growth,” he says. “In my view, it’s a student’s duty to work to better the situation of their peers, give back to the local community and promote awareness and participation on the major issues of the day.”

Pervan-Keller calls his summer internship for Judge Wanda Evans at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice “memorable,” where he assisted with motion and procedure research, helped draft jury instructions and generally contributed to the inner workings of the court.

“While it was a privilege to regularly observe the daily proceedings it was truly fantastic to have the chance to be a part of them, giving me many chances to learn the finer details of the practice of criminal law from behind the bench, with an excellent judge and staff to work under,” he said.   

Pervan-Keller plans to remain in the Great Lakes State and work as a prosecutor dealing with cases of criminal sexual conduct.

“My motivation is to offer what little recourse can be given to those who must now walk through life after having been subject to arguably the vilest of offenses,” he said. “I hope to someday sit on the bench, presiding over such cases. That goal is very far off on the horizon.”    

With a strong belief that giving back is essential to leading a decent life, Pervan-Keller volunteers at the Pope Francis Warming Center, and organizes fellow students as volunteers.

He plans to continue his volunteer work after graduation and into his legal career.

“There’s a duty lawyers and law students have to the upholding of social justice,” Pervan-Keller said. “Understanding and connecting with people around you through community involvement allows you to be in a position to better make a difference for them and, in a more personal sense, meet some extraordinary and wonderful individuals.”     

Long walks in the woods, fishing, and practicing classical piano are pursuits that give him a break from studies and work. Her also is an avid reader, with a particular passion for history.

A practitioner of taekwondo and judo for 19 years, Pervan-Keller enjoys both the physical and mental benefits.

“The martial arts help me stay to my path in all aspects of life —law school included,” he said.    

The Bloomfield Hills native now lives in downtown Detroit, where he has deep family roots.

His great-grandparents settled in the city a century ago, his grandparents lived downtown for most of their long lives, and his mother and her siblings were born and raised in the city.

When he has breakfast at Eastern Market before work or school, visits Belle Isle or walks the city streets, Pervan-Keller thinks of family members who preceded him in frequenting those same places, and fondly recalls the many times he tagged along.    

“Family is what comes to mind when I’m in Detroit, both those living and those that have passed on,” Pervan-Keller. “The closer I am to downtown, the closer I feel to them.”   

And he remains very close to his parents, crediting them with his success.

“Everything I’ve done up to this point and will do in the future is thanks to the upbringing they gave me, with strict teachinPErvan-Keller said. “They continue to inspire me through the work they do on a daily basis and the lives they live.”

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