LOS ANGELES – Recently named the 2013 Latino Attorney of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association, Juan Jose Dominguez came to the United States as a child and knew poverty firsthand, a life experience that focused him on the community and gave him a profound desire to serve the most needy in society.
“I was about 17 when I began working in hospitals: I was at Saint Francis in Lynwood and at the one at UCLA for 12 years, ... two of the largest trauma hospitals in California,” he recalled in an interview with Efe.
There he saw how many Hispanics came to the hospital not knowing how to speak English, without medical insurance and without anyone to help them.
“That really opened my eyes and I saw much sadness,” he said.
The objective of helping these people led Dominguez to work hard to build one of the largest law firms providing legal services to Hispanics in Southern California.
Dominguez said that there is a great need for the Hispanic community to receive good services in their own language.
“There’s a great need for adequate service for Latinos in their language,” he said, emphasizing the importance not only of understanding the culture, “which is very important in the activities of all human beings,” but also “treating all people with respect.”
Dominguez recalled that he came to this country from Cuba with his parents and his five siblings when he was 10, more than four decades ago, and, after spending some time in Miami, they moved to California.
“My dad came at age 42 to the United States with six children and had to work from the first day he arrived, but he always refused to accept help from the government,” he said.
Dominguez said that 25 years later, when the children had grown up, his father, who was a pharmacist in Cuba, went to the University of Southern California and renewed his license, later opening “his first pharmacy when he was 68 or 69 years old.”
This example is evidence that the Dominguez family has always “wanted” to do beneficial things, a virtue that the attorney is trying to inculcate in those who surround him.
Dominguez said it is important that Hispanic youths have good examples of Latino professionals “so that young people have other (aspirations) than just being boxers or football players,” he said.