Name: Luz Herrera
Profession: founder, Community Lawyers
"My name is Luz Herrera, and I'm working to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots."
Perhaps nothing better characterizes the dichotomy between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our society than the way the legal services system is structured. If you are an individual or business fortunate to have sufficient resources, you can likely afford legal counsel. Or, if you are indigent and in need of specific kinds of legal counsel, you can avail yourself of the free services of Legal Aid. However, if you or your business falls into that vast middle, you are not able to afford to participate fully in our democracy by realizing the benefits of our judicial system.
Luz Herrera is passionately working toward a day when California’s “have nots” can access legal representation or become educated on how to solve some of their own legal issues outside of the courtroom. Luz – who attended Stanford undergraduate and Harvard law school - opted against job offers with comfortable salaries to follow her passion. She established her own law practice in Compton and later founded Community Lawyers, a nonprofit that provides access to affordable legal services and community legal education. “Courthouses and the community resource centers they offer for legal service can be intimidating and don’t have convenient hours, particularly to the immigrant population,” said Luz. “Community Lawyers is working to bridge the gap for those underserved by the legal system.”
Like many Californians, Luz embraces and celebrates the state’s rich entrepreneurial diversity. In fact, Luz's life and career revolves around that diversity. She grew up selling Mexican food products at local swap meets, has counseled attorneys starting their own law practices, and helped educate micro-entrepreneurs to obtain proper health permits and business licenses and negotiate favorable contract terms. "Street vendors, community artists and immigrant entrepreneurs who sustain themselves through entrepreneurial ventures need legal assistance and information to become successful," she said. Luz will be launching a transactional law clinic in fall 2011 through the Thomas Jefferson School of Law to assist and educate "have not" micro-entrepreneurs and nonprofits in cutting through red tape on many legal issues, allowing them to be more actively engaged in our democracy.