Although prominent Hispanic lawyer Mario U. Zamora left his hometown of Lindsay, California, to attend law school, his desire to serve the close-knit community brought him back to the Golden State’s Central Valley. Today, he is a partner at the law firm Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd and Gin, where he often represents immigrant plaintiffs in civil litigation and government law. “We’re extremely diverse here,” Zamora says. “Myself, I’m Mexican-American. We have a Chinese-American, a Japanese-American, a Portuguese-American, and that’s just the lawyers. For our assistants, our staff, and our paralegals, it’s just as diverse.” He says this diversity doesn’t divide the staff but actually helps them communicate. “We’re all very close,” he explains. “When out-of-town lawyers visit, they say, I can’t believe how nice and how civil you guys are with each other.”
If you come here, and you work and you’re a law-abiding citizen, you should be able to work your way toward being an actual citizen.
Zamora was inspired to take up law as a profession because he knew it would provide a good living, while simultaneously enabling him to give back and help others. “I’m kind of the end product of what happened before me,” he says. “My dad was born in the country, but only because my grandfather was able to come across illegally. He wanted a better life for his family. Now, I’m in a position where I’m helping the community.” That’s why policy is important, Zamora believes. “Millions of other people are just trying to do that same thing: They just want to come here to have a better life for themselves or for their children.”
In his current position, Zamora serves as city attorney for the city of Lindsay, California, where he attended high school, and as assistant city attorney for the city of Hanford. He’s a member of the League of California Cities’ Public Records Act Committee, president of the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a Rotary International member. In 2013, he was named Young Professional of the Year by the Professional Latin American Association.
To him, having a pathway to citizenship for hardworking immigrants is common sense. “I think people don’t recognize that immigrants have a huge impact on the economy, not only as far as spending money, but also on wages,” Zamora says. “Immigrant labor keeps food prices and agricultural prices down, which is in turn great for everybody because it’s less money you have to spend at the grocery store.” Without compromise between the political left and right, however, nothing will change. But in terms of policy, “nobody’s really pitching anything that’s decent,” Zamora says. “If you come here, and you work and you’re a law-abiding citizen, you should be able to work your way toward being an actual citizen. We’re the United States, we’re supposed to be the best of the best. Why would we turn away someone who was hard working and wants to contribute?”