Growing up on the West Side of a segregated San Antonio, Joe Gamez saw firsthand how his friends and family suffered at the hands of a system they couldn’t control. He vowed to do what he could to change it.
“When I was a little boy, I remember the way the legal system worked,” Mr. Gamez says. “People got into accidents and the insurance companies wouldn’t pay. People would get railroaded into prison for something small. I knew there was a need to help people.”
That commitment to justice and fairness propelled him into a legal career, a term as a Texas state representative and a position as a leader in his hometown.
The eldest of eight children, his father died when Mr. Gamez was 3, and he grew up in a modest home with his mother and a stepfather from Mexico City. He was student council president and salutatorian at Lanier High School. But in those days, even the most academically oriented students were steered away from higher education. His principal advised him to go into vocational training so his college education wouldn’t be a burden on his family.
He ignored his principal and instead went to San Antonio College, then the University of Texas at Austin and St. Mary’s University School of Law. His career took him to the Brooks County District Attorney’s Office and then to private practice. Seeing that little had changed from the days of his youth and Texas still lagged nationally in its healthcare and educational system, he sought – and won – a term in the Texas Legislature in the early 1980s.
In more recent years, his practice has added a personal injury focus. This, is in part, because of his own experience when his now-adult daughter was 4 years old. She and his wife were in a car accident that left his daughter’s face severely injured. Mr. Gamez was able to use his network and find a specialist who was able to repair her injuries. Even as an attorney, the process of filing an insurance claim was trying, and that experience stays in his mind and heart as he and his associates fight for their clients.
“Insurance companies are there to make a profit. They’re there to make money,” he says. “We care about our clients. “I know where they’ve been. I know what poverty is like. I know what it’s like to want to take care of your family.”
As his practice has grown and he has added more attorneys, he also has added more resources to help his clients.
“I tell my personal injury clients, ‘There’s no money that can fully compensate you, but we will do what we can to alleviate your suffering,’ ” he says. “I’m not there for the money, I’m there to help them.”
- St. Mary’s University School of Law, San Antonio, Texas
- Sidney Lanier High School
- University of Texas at Austin
- U.S. District Court Western District of Texas
Professional Associations and Memberships:
- Texas House of Representatives
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