2021 CRIMINAL LAW Q&A
James S. Abrenio
Abrenio Law, Fairfax
Title: Owner and trial attorney
Other legal specialties: Personal injury
Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Virginia; law degree, Syracuse University College of Law
Spouse: Linda Choe, who works as an attorney for the Fairfax County Public Schools. She is also president-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia.
Children: We are expecting our first child, a daughter, in January.
First job as a lawyer: Worked as a collections attorney and got fired after the first day!
Fan of: “Ted Lasso”
Recently read book: “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike,” by Phil Knight (I re-read it.
It’s really good.)
How has your background aided you in your practice? I’m half-Filipino and went to grade school in Southwest Virginia. My father is an immigrant from the Philippines and my mom is from Kentucky. I’ve lived all over Virginia. Working as both a criminal defense attorney, former public defender, and now on the civil side, I’ve litigated cases from all angles. My life and career have allowed me to develop relationships with people from all types of backgrounds, which has taught me empathy. It’s been truly humbling.
How did you come to take on the case of the man accused of assaulting “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler? Having lived in Charlottesville, witnessing what happened during that rally was truly tragic and horrifying. Through social media, I learned a friend knew someone facing a criminal charge for allegedly assaulting this person, and that he was seeking donations to pay for his defense. Instead, I donated my services pro bono. I was proud that I was able to use my legal training to help him through a jury trial.