Gloria Curiel: Giving Back to the Community
Gloria Curiel has long appreciated the challenges faced by immigrants. Raised by parents who emigrated from Mexico to California to start a new life, she witnessed firsthand the difficulties presented by a language barrier and complex legislation. She realized that vital information on immigration law is not always accessible to the people it impacts most. And Curiel sought to remedy that.
To reach the masses, she created a Spanish-language television segment that provides legal advice and explains current laws. The show, which aired on the Univision network, took off and garnered a huge following. Curiel appeared twice a week on a morning news show called Primera Edición for seven years.
“Immigrants fall victim to fraud and people passing themselves off as lawyers,” she said. “I knew that we had to get the correct information out there.” The segment she created 12 years ago lives on today.
On top of her media work, Curiel has been practicing law with her husband, Anthony Parker, for the past 25 years. Based in Santa Monica, CA, Curiel & Parker specializes in immigration law and has focused on issues such as deportation, employment and family-law cases. Curiel is a lifeline to immigrants who contact her daily via letters, emails and phone calls. She also utilizes her access to various media platforms to encourage the public to become involved in the crafting of new legislation.
“It’s important for lawyers to give back to the community because their advocacy goes so far,” she said, “Helping people get access to legal minds is so important because many people can’t afford a lawyer.”
After leaving Univision in 2007, Curiel aimed to reach an even larger audience. So she started a weekly radio program with the same mission. Additionally, she volunteers with a group of local immigration attorneys who hold a round-table discussion on the air once a month. Listeners write in with questions, and the group offers advice.
Curiel offers support to clients who ask for help on a daily basis, but there was a time when she was the recipient of such a gift. It came in the form of Loyola’s student organization, La Raza de Loyola. La Raza’s goal is twofold: to increase the number of lawyers willing to work with the Latino/a community and to support fellowship among Latino/a students within the Law School.
“My fondest memory at Loyola was meeting La Raza de Loyola students and being embraced by them as soon as I walked on campus,” she said. “I knew that I was never alone.” She cites encouragement from her peers as critical to her personal growth. Now as an alumna, Curiel still makes an effort to stay involved with the club by attending one of its events at least once a year.
When searching for law schools, Loyola was an easy choice for Curiel. “I wanted to attend a reputable night school, since I had to work during the day to support my mother,” she said. She credits Loyola’s faculty with providing her the support and guidance she needed to become a successful attorney. “Loyola’s professors let you know they cared.”
At Loyola, Curiel developed an interest in personal injury and workers compensation and figured that her career was headed in that direction. Her interest in immigration law intensified later.
While studying for the bar exam in 1985, she met two people who altered her career path and her life. “I met an immigration attorney who was passionate about his work and everything changed,” she said. He offered her a job at his firm, and the rest is history.
The second person? That would be her husband, who had just graduated from Southwestern Law School. The couple married and gave birth to a daughter, who is now a freshman at the University of Southern California.
“Loyola taught me to think like a lawyer by offering practical courses so I was ready to practice when I graduated,” she said. “It made a big difference and got me to where I am now.”