When it comes to giving back, high-profile lawyer John Gomez doesn’t just write a check—he puts his entire personality into it, guaranteeing good-natured laughs wherever he goes.
There was the time he danced the quickstep for Malashock Thinks You Can Dance, a Dancing with the Stars-style fundraiser for the Malashock Dance School, which offers free programs to underserved kids. “The training was so hard,” Gomez says. “And I lost, of course, because I wasn’t any good at all. But I tried hard and it was for a great cause.”
Gomez chuckles a little just thinking about it. “I also did a comedy standup routine fundraiser at House of Blues,” he adds. “I was a lot better at that.”
No big surprise, as the man knows a thing or two about delivery. As founder of the Gomez Law Firm, he is one of the top trial attorneys in San Diego, raking in $250 million in verdicts and settlements with over 50 awards of more than $1 million each. He’s represented boldface clients and has won awards for his work on personal injury and product liability cases.
His comedy act, as you might imagine, contained quite a few lawyer jokes. “I poked fun at myself,” Gomez says. “About being a Mexican ambulance chaser in San Diego, and other opportunistic uses of my ethnicity.”
No matter how enjoyable he makes his various causes along the way, Gomez views them as serious business. “I grew up facing a number of obstacles,” he explains. “From poverty and lack of parental supervision to drug and alcohol use and being bad in school. A number of organizations helped me out along the way.”
He tends to do a lot for kids, he says, and lends his philanthropic talent to Latino causes in particular, like the Chicano Federation and the Latino Peace Officers organization. Gomez does voiceovers for PSA ads against drunk and distracted driving after seeing so many victims come through his office over the years. He also helps wounded military and police officers on an ad hoc basis, because his brother is an active duty police officer and his stepfather is a retired one.
For those he helps, especially kids who are struggling, Gomez makes an approachable superhero — a big-time lawyer who surfs, does Bikram yoga, and has a black belt in karate. He has many tattoos, as well; on his arms, a Latin script reads “I Conquer” and “I Defend.” He’s also inked a victorious scene of David taking down Goliath.
It’s a story he knows well. “I decided that once I achieved success I would endeavor to help others have similar opportunities,” he says. ANNAMARIA STEPHENS
Photography by Jeff Corrigan