Jeremy Berry may be a big-firm lawyer, but politics is more than just an extracurricular activity for him.
Berry does the usual sort of political volunteering, serving on the board of a Democratic organization, Red Clay Democrats, and knocking on doors on weekends. But his day job as an associate at McKenna Long & Aldridge is politics, too, as his practice includes advising those who want to do business with the government, as well as representing elected officials as they navigate campaign finance and ethics issues.
It remains to be seen whether Berry will parlay the connections he's making into a political career of his own, but he acknowledges that possibility is on his radar.
Berry, a Philadelphia native who grew up in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., was student body president at Emory University. He later worked as a lobbyist for the school, then stayed on to attend Emory's law school. He's made his career at a firm with a raft of politically minded attorneys on both sides of the aisle.
Recently Berry has been analyzing operations at the DeKalb County School District, which hired the firm to tackle governance issues after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed DeKalb on probation. And he represents the campaign of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who is expected to coast to re-election this year and is viewed as having higher ambitions.
Reed says Berry has lead responsibility for his campaign's compliance issues and is a "constant source of advice"—including political advice. "He has an incredible work ethic," says Reed. "He has the consummate lawyer's manner and demeanor and never gets too high or too low, so I really value him."
Another Democratic standout whose campaign Berry represents, state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, praises Berry's trust­worthiness and his ability to approach a situation with an eye to more than just the narrow legal issue at hand. "When you're dealing with something like my campaign, it's really me as a person," says Carter, an attorney at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore. "So it's really important to have someone that you trust and who understands you."
Berry says his clients also include Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes. And Carter is just one of several young Democrats for whom Berry's sons, ages 7 and 5, have campaigned. Berry says his boys also have knocked on doors for former Atlanta City Council candidate Amir Farokhi, former state House candidate and current Atlanta School Board candidate Jason Esteves, state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, and former state Rep. Elena Parent. "People are more likely to answer the door when you show up with kids," says Berry.
Berry, who lives in Dunwoody with his wife, Rashelle, doesn't rule out the possibility that he may be asking his sons to campaign for him someday. "It's something I'm still trying to figure out," says Berry. "Rashelle has told me when they're out of the house, I can run."
—Alyson M. Palmer