Volunteer Lawyers for Justice is thrilled to honor Michael Poreda as its September Volunteer of the Month. Michael has been volunteering with VLJ’s Children’s Representation Program since June 2018.
Michael recently merged his own practice with the law firm Wronko Loewen Benucci in Somerville. He handles a variety of matters, but focuses on education and employment law.
In early 2018, Michael was on medical leave due to a chronic migraine disorder. He made a decision then to open his own practice instead of returning to his firm. In order to gain relevant litigation experience, Michael sought pro bono opportunities and came across VLJ. Having prior experience as both a teacher and an attorney representing school districts in employment discrimination cases, Michael had always been interested in education law.
One of the first cases Michael took through VLJ’s Children’s Representation Program involved a 15-year-old student with a chronic migraine disorder who had missed a significant portion of the school year. The school district, which had failed to offer the student any accommodations and delayed providing home instruction, threatened to hold her back. Michael filed a motion for emergent relief and ultimately settled the case, ensuring that the student could graduate on time. The parent reported that “Michael was amazing. He made such a huge difference in our lives. He fought hard and won for us.” Michael said, “This case really spoke to me because I had been disabled by a migraine condition as well. In fact, taking this case on was a step back towards employment for me.”
In addition to that case, Michael has taken on nine more through the Children’s Representation Program. “VLJ has been great; when I feel ready to learn something new, there are always cases available where I can get my feet wet,” Michael said. “Getting that experience makes me feel more secure.”
Michael also recognizes the need for low-income clients to have access to pro bono representation, especially in education cases. “The price of an attorney is well out of reach of so many parents who have serious issues with their children getting an appropriate education.”
Michael’s enthusiasm in assisting indigent parents and his determination in mastering a complex area of law have made him an invaluable asset to the Children’s Representation Program over the past year. VLJ is honored to recognize Michael as its September Volunteer of the Month.