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
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
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
Finalists: Sandra Medrano, Pennie Mutschler
BEST MALE BOOKKEEPER
Finalists: Robert Cruz, Carlos Rodriguez Jr., Bradley Smith
BEST FEMALE FINANCIAL PLANNER/ADVISOR
Finalists: Christyna Lewis, Angele Watson, Sandra White/Goldman Sachs
BEST MALE FINANCIAL PLANNER/ADVISOR
Finalists: Elias Contreras, Bryan Cotton, Michael Ryan, Shane Theriot
BEST LGBTQ FUND MANAGER
BEST BUSINESS ATTORNEY
Paul Franzetti (tie)
Mitchell Katine (tie)
Finalists: Danielle Healey, Julie Maxey
BEST FAMILY ATTORNEY
Finalists: Ashley DeHart, Chelsea Klumpp, Dawn Renken, Kathleen Vossler
BEST PROBATE ATTORNEY
Finalists: Stephany Alvarez, James Fuller, Hegwood Law Group, Samuel Hodges, deborah lawson, Coleton W. Mayo
BEST HUMAN-RIGHTS ATTORNEY
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
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.