Attorney David Hakimfar, Esq. on representing the LGBTQ community and the fight for justice for all.
BY MARK ARIEL | PHOTO BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM
Six years ago, David Hakimfar, Esq. founded Pride Legal, a network of independent lawyers curated by the LGBTQ community for the LGBTQ community.
In an exclusive interview with THE FIGHT, Hakimfar discusses the impetus behind Pride Legal, its greatest findings, and the future of the LGBTQ legal landscape.
How did you come up with the idea for Pride Legal?
Prior to starting my law firm, I extensively worked with the LGBTQ community in Southern California. Many of my law school professors, deans, and legal mentors belong to the LGBTQ community and were all-around beautiful people.
This led me to my first client, a kind, elderly gay man in his 80s. It was unsettling to learn that despite being a WWII veteran, serving his country, and living an honest life, he endured insurmountable prejudice very quietly. He bore the misfortune of his 50-year life partner passing (whom he wasn’t able to receive pension benefits from) and the State of California’s refusal to renew his professional notary license. He lost the love of his life, his career, and had no safety net. He found me after seven lawyers told him it would probably take him over a year to get his license renewed.
Determined to see justice, I got the State to renew his notary license in nine days, accompanied with an apology.
He sent me a thank you letter following the renewal, thanking me for understanding him, for not passing judgment, for helping him, and for providing legal services with care and pride. I still have this letter in my office as a reminder.
That’s when something lit up in my soul, heart, and head and I realized that the LGBTQ community is in great need of non-biased, high quality legal representation from lawyers who understand the community they wish to serve.
And that is what Pride Legal is about. Pride Legal is a collective of skilled, independent lawyers who are curated by the LGBTQ community for the community. We set high-standards for lawyers joining our network, and ensure that every potential client and caller is listened to, treated with utmost care, and connected to a trusted attorney who can handle their case.
Are there differences between LGBTQ and straight clients?
There are many legal issues the LGBTQ community face more often than non-LGBTQ people in every area of law. In crimes, LGBTQ are more targeted by vice police for sex crimes. In family law and immigration, LGBTQ can now marry and a foreign spouse can now receive citizenship. These examples trail through virtually every area of law. The greater point is that LGBTQ have yet to receive equal treatment under the law. So the last thing they need is a lawyer that doesn’t understand them as a client, isn’t empathetic, and/or doesn’t have an understanding of the legal nuances LGBTQ face.
How are you involved personally in the community?
The most fulfilling part of my work is finding avenues for paying it forward—and in doing so, to create lasting societal impact on the communities we serve.
From the onset of launching Pride Legal, we’ve been actively involved in supporting LGBTQ causes and providing advocacy and education to the community. We publish monthly educational pieces shedding light on new ballot measures, LGBTQ related laws, and political issues facing the community and support local businesses in the community with legal consultations.
We also aim to launch the Pride Legal Foundation in 2017, to offer scholarship and grant opportunities to LGBTQ law students. By providing financial, educational, and professional resources, the Foundation will find, foster, and fund the next generation of socially conscious, LGBTQ-friendly lawyers.
What will the LGBTQ legal landscape look like over the next few years?
LGBTQ laws are constantly changing. While some jurisdictions have progressed and now have better and broader protections for LGBTQ, others, like North Carolina, have regressed. In the grand scheme, for every two steps LGBTQ rights take forward, there is a one-step push back somewhere else. And that’s why Pride Legal will be here and remain relevant in the fight, in the community, and in the conversation.
When faced with a legal question or issue, Pride Legal should be your first call—regardless of sexual orientation. We reserve the right to provide friendly service to EVERYONE. When you call Pride Legal, I will personally provide you a free and confidential consultation and connect you with the most appropriate attorney for your case.
You can reach us at 1-888-789-PRIDE(7743) or my direct office line at (310) 730-1250.