Gayest & GreatestGayest & Greatest 2022Special Sections

Gayest & Greatest 2022: Legal & Financial

Attorney Luis Ruiz’s humble beginnings make his journey even more impressive.

Luis Ruiz (Photo courtesy luisruizlaw.com)

BEST HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY

When Luis Ruiz was a pre-teen, he was a farm worker who traveled throughout the East Coast picking oranges, zucchini, apples, onions, cucumbers, and the like. He witnessed just how horribly undocumented people were treated. 

“It sparked a fire inside of me,” says Ruiz, winner of the Best Human-Rights Attorney and a finalist for Best Immigration Attorney in the Gayest & Greatest awards. 

“I decided that I wanted a seat at the table and a little bit of the power that the United States offers, so that I could help out my community.”

He now has that seat after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. Ruiz is the founder of Luis Ruiz Law, where he and his team focus exclusively on immigration cases that involve family petitions, waivers, and self-petitions for crime victims.

Born in Tizapan El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico, Ruiz was brought to the US as a two-year-old and raised in the Houston area. “This is where I have chosen to establish my businesses and serve the community,” he says.

As a gay immigrant himself, Ruiz says he has a unique understanding of the issues that members of the LGBTQ community face in legal proceedings. “Many of our clients are discriminated against by other attorneys, who incorrectly claim that because the couple is LGBTQ, their cases are harder to prove by the government agencies that are tasked with adjudicating the petitions we file. We see immigration officers’ biases—and occasionally, blatant homophobia—come out during the adjudication process.

“As LGBTQ people, we face discrimination and bias from other people. As an LGBTQ attorney, I make sure to use my privilege to protect the rights of my clients and demand the respect that all people deserve.” 

Ruiz helps LGBTQ clients who have been victims of a crime to obtain lawful status through special programs for crime victims, as well as binational couples where one party is a US citizen or permanent resident and the other is a foreign citizen. “Our office helps the foreign citizen obtain legal status to be in the United States with their spouse. We have been proud to help many LGBTQ couples either be reunited or gain the peace of mind that they will not be separated,” he says.

Ruiz understands why LGBTQ clients feel more comfortable when other LGBTQ people are helping them, particularly when it comes to sensitive legal matters. “It brings peace of mind to know that the person helping you understands the unique struggles that we face as LGBTQ people, and has a shared life experience. That makes it easier to communicate openly. This is the same energy and insight we bring to all of our clients.
We understand. We have been there.
We can help.” 

Because he and his team work with a lot of crime victims, the work that they do can take a toll on their mental health. So, as a firm, they plan team-building events outside of the office. In addition, Ruiz enjoys reading, going to museums, and spending time with friends and family.

But in spite of the stress of his high-stakes profession, it’s clear that Ruiz has found his calling. “I am a queer brown immigrant, and helping my people makes me happy. Protecting their rights and interests brings me satisfaction that I cannot put into words.”

For information, visit luisruizlaw.com.


LEGAL & FINANCIAL

BEST BANK
Chase Bank Houston (tie)
Amegy Bank (tie)
Finalists: Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Frost Bank, PNC Bank, Regions Bank

BEST CREDIT UNION
Houston Federal Credit Union
Finalists: PrimeWay FCU, Smart Financial Credit Union

BEST FEMALE ACCOUNTANT
Kimberly Shockley
Finalist: Dorothy B. Pearce

BEST MALE ACCOUNTANT
Joseph Werle/Crunch Consulting
Finalists: José Arteaga, An Dang, Ramon Fernandez, Gary Gritz,
Brian Kapchinskie, Donald Simon

BEST FEMALE BOOKKEEPER
Kathy Hubbard
Finalists: Sandra Medrano, Pennie Mutschler

BEST MALE BOOKKEEPER
An Dang
Finalists: Robert Cruz, Carlos Rodriguez Jr., Bradley Smith

BEST FEMALE FINANCIAL PLANNER/ADVISOR
Grace Yung
Finalists: Christyna Lewis, Angele Watson, Sandra White/Goldman Sachs

BEST MALE FINANCIAL PLANNER/ADVISOR
Richard Dickson
Finalists: Elias Contreras, Bryan Cotton, Michael Ryan, Shane Theriot

BEST LGBTQ FUND MANAGER
Doug Smith

BEST BUSINESS ATTORNEY
Paul Franzetti (tie)
Mitchell Katine (tie)
Finalists: Danielle Healey, Julie Maxey

BEST FAMILY ATTORNEY
deborah lawson
Finalists: Ashley DeHart, Chelsea Klumpp, Dawn Renken, Kathleen Vossler

BEST PROBATE ATTORNEY
Jeff Watters
Finalists: Stephany Alvarez, James Fuller, Hegwood Law Group, Samuel Hodges, deborah lawson, Coleton W. Mayo

BEST HUMAN-RIGHTS ATTORNEY
Luis Ruiz
Finalists: Danielle Healey, Mitchell Katine, Ian Scharfman

BEST IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY
John Nechman (tie)
Raed Gonzalez (tie)
Finalists: Luis Ruiz, Ana Maria Schwartz

BEST PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
Lena Laurenzo
Finalists: Matt Franks, Greg Nassar, Jessica Rodriguez-Wahlquist


For a full list of winners, go here.

This article appears in the October 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine. 

 

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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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