Luz Herrera is a nationally recognized attorney and law professor with a longstanding track record for advancing access to justice.
As a member of the California Bar for more than 20 years, Luz has advocated for families, non-profits and entrepreneurs.
After graduating from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Luz honed her law skills at a large private California firm before turning to a legal career in public service.
Setting up her solo practice in Compton, California in 2002, Luz immediately noticed the need for families to have greater access to legal services. At the time, Luz became the only Spanish speaking attorney to establish a private practice aimed at serving that fast-growing Latino community.
She also created a model for establishing community-based legal services. Now celebrating its 18th year in service, Community Lawyers continues to serve the residents of Compton and many other residents of Southeastern Los Angeles County. The non-profit agency’s mission is to help people in underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods navigate the legal system in times of need.
Luz Herrera grew up in a loving, working class family in Whittier, where she attended local public schools. She graduated from Pioneer High School. She remembers the family often living paycheck-to-paycheck. To help make ends meet, the Herrera family would sell Mexican food products at the local swap meet by day and then clean office buildings by night. This experience led Luz to understand the hopes and needs of Angeleno families like hers.
Luz has never forgotten her Los Angeles roots and her belief that all people deserve equal access to justice. And there are many factors that make this possible.
“People need stability to be able to respect the rule of law,” says Luz. “Law and economic opportunity and stability need to coexist and remain accessible to everyone – regardless of race, gender, or economic class.”
These foundational values inspire the work she continues to this day in law schools across the country including UCLA, UC Irvine, Chapman, and Thomas Jefferson.
Luz accepted an exciting invitation to build the Practical Skills Program at Texas A&M to help prepare students to enter law practice. The faculty sought out her expertise in further developing clinical education. Luz currently serves as Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Experiential Education.
Luz and her mom Esperanza are proud to be raising two beautiful children.
‘I went into law because I wanted to represent people from my community,’ said Herrera, who graduated, as I did, from Pioneer High School in Whittier.
Hard work took Herrera to Harvard, where the grads, she said, think of their law degrees as ‘golden tickets.’ Herrera cashed in too, with a six-figure salary right out of law school. But during two years as a ‘corporate drone,’ she never entered a courtroom.
Not only the first lawyer in her family, she is the first woman in her family to go to college.
Herrera did not know any lawyers and never even thought of being a lawyer until meeting some Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) attorneys her senior year in high school. “I decided to become a lawyer when California was in the middle of many anti-immigrant campaigns, a redistricting battle, and the tensions that lead to the 1992 civil disturbance (aka riots) in Los Angeles were brewing.”
Herrera grew up in Whittier, Calif., the only child of two immigrants from Mexico. Sometimes, when she was in grade school, her parents worked nights cleaning local office buildings. Herrera accompanied them, completing her homework at vacant desks.
A teacher noticed her sharp intelligence and urged her into a gifted program. Herrera relied on scholarships and grants to attend Stanford and Harvard. In both places, she focused much of her energy on fighting for social justice in a variety of forums.