Far from Pearsall
How Manuel Berrelez worked his way
from his hometown to Yale to Dallas
BY MICHAEL CORCORAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY ENLOW
When Manuel Berrelez was in kindergarten, his mother pointed
to the name across the front of Ted Flores Elementary School (then Ted Flores
Kindergarten) in Pearsall and told him, “Ted Flores was your great-grandfather.”
He went far. Today, Berrelez is a business litigator at Vinson & Elkins in Dallas,
and hiring partner for the office.
“From my mother, I got the value of an education,” says 39-year-old Berrelez.
Gloria started taking college classes while she and Berrelez’s dad were raising
four children, earning a degree in education in 1992. She has been a public school
teacher in Texas for 25 years. Berrelez went back to school himself—in a way—in
2013, when he defended Dallas school board candidate Miguel Solis against a
lawsuit that questioned his residency status.
The school board had been deadlocked 4-4 on whether to fire school reformer
Mike Miles—who had promised a widespread housecleaning—as district
superintendent. “There was a lot at stake on that one,” says Berrelez, whose
client, a Miles supporter, won the election, after which the lawsuit was dropped.
The case established Berrelez and his co-counsel, Jeronimo Valdez, as
formidable young attorneys because they won out over iconic attorney Lisa Blue,
an experience that a Dallas Observer writer likened to a bear showing up at your
campsite: “great story later, but you have to live to tell it.” The writer declared that
the bear was beaten by “the two wolves” hired by Solis.