Legislative Director, Consumer Attorneys of California
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
Year Graduated: 1988
Nancy Peverini's father inspired her to become a lawyer and lobbyist. He left for WWII without a high school diploma. When he returned to Soledad, a small farming town in the Salinas Valley, he pumped gas and sold tires on the side. He eventually bought a gas station and built a successful tire business.
With an interest in town politics, he ran for city council, serving for 17 years, including several years as mayor. The town was majority Latino, Peverini says, but none had ever served on the council. So her father encouraged his Latino foreman to run. He was elected and eventually became mayor.
"He instilled in his kids a sense of being active in your community and trying to improve it," Peverini says. Peverini, '88, is legislative director of Consumer Attorneys of California, a nonprofit that fights for consumer legal rights.
Peverini joined the organization in 1987 as a law clerk while studying at Pacific McGeorge School of Law and has stayed there since. Her interest in consumer rights began while taking a torts class at McGeorge. Strengthening tort laws, she thought, would make the greatest impact on people's daily lives. Through a McGeorge connection, Peverini got hired at Consumer Attorneys as a law clerk conducting legal research. There, she witnessed legislative negotiations first-hand.
"It really showed me there were alternatives to litigation and very direct ways you could impact the whole legal system via the legislative process," she says. After her clerkship ended, Consumer Attorneys hired Peverini as an associate legislative counsel, and she worked as a lawyer and lobbyist. She was later promoted to senior legislative counsel and has been legislative director about seven years.
Peverini works with a wide array of issues. In 2013, that included toxic chemicals, uninsured motorists, arbitration and immunities for dog bites at dog parks. Her organization tracks more than 500 bills annually. One recurring issue the organization has been fighting for is access to the courts and court funding. In 2013, California courts received $63 million in additional funding.
"We recognized that without adequate court funding, the laws don't mean much," she says. Peverini likes her job in part because she enjoys helping people. Sometimes her work can get personal.
"It feels good to be on the right side," she says. "When you are fighting for consumers' legal rights, you really are wearing a white hat. You face a lot of well-funded obstacles and opponents, but often it's access to the courts and access to a remedy that helps a person." Peverini, who has an undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University, is active in her profession. She was president of Women Lawyers of Sacramento in 1995. She also is a board member of the Consumer Federation of California, which awarded her its Consumer Champion award in 2010 for her long-term commitment to consumer issues in California.
"I feel like I'm using my law degree and my strengths to make a change," she says. "We're not always successful, but we do well. For example, in the last four years, not one major tort reform bill that limits consumer rights has passed through the Legislature. But for the Consumer Attorneys, the result would be different."