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Meet Dominique Banos, Esq. of DBLO Firm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominique Banos, Esq.

Dominique, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised by an extraordinary woman, my mother. She raised me as a single parent working day and night to keep a roof over our heads. Although my mother worked non-stop, she was very attentive to me and ingrained the importance of education, hard work and respect. Self-respect and respect of others.

The apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree. I inherited my mother’s work ethic and despite my circumstances I was determined to create my own success. This is why I started working at the age of 15 (to alleviate the financial burden at home) and worked 3 jobs (at once) while attending Cal State Northridge full-time. I graduated Cal State Northridge with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, as I have always loved history and its interconnections with politics and society, locally and globally.

Law school… I always wanted to be a lawyer. I never doubted my ability to be a successful lawyer. However, becoming a lawyer always seemed unattainable for a “girl like me.” I am black and Latina. Not many lawyers looked like me and I did not have any lawyers in my family to “show me the way.” So, I figured I’d eventually be a history teacher or professor, but enjoyed bartending and waitressing in the meantime.

Law school came about after experiencing a tragic loss. I lost my best friend and soul-sister, Brittany Connolly. Brittany and her parents, Marianne and Bill, were my surrogate family. Always there for me and my mother. Always supporting me and always encouraging me. They always encouraged me [throughout middle-school, high school and college] to be a lawyer, so when Brittany died I was faced with two options: 1) Lose myself in depression and let it be an “excuse” to limit myself or; 2) Be resilient and become. I wouldn’t allow Brittany’s death to be in vain. That same year I took the LSAT and applied to law school. The rest is history.

By the grace of God I graduated law school and passed the infamous California State Bar. I started my own law firm immediately thereafter. I am now the first and only lawyer in my family. I know I won’t be the last.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. I faced a lot of implicit bias throughout law school by those who didn’t think that I would make the first year cut, pass the bar and so on. Clearly that didn’t stop me. After passing the CA bar I decided to start my own law firm. Although I had very little income and faced a tremendous amount of student loan debt, I pushed forward and set up my first office on my mother’s dining room table. I took almost every case that came my way and did countless court appearances for other attorneys in my field. I soon developed a steady client-base and was able to afford office space and expand. I’ve been growing every year since then. I’m extremely grateful.

Other challenges: In the beginning it was a challenge being a newly-licensed young woman of color attorney in a primarily Caucasian/white male dominated field. The implicit bias I experienced in law school poured over into the profession as explicit bias. I was scrutinized by older male attorneys, including court staff, about whether I was an attorney. For an example, I would walk into a courtroom and proceed to handle my case(s) only to be abruptly stopped by bailiffs and questioned “are you a lawyer?” or sternly scolded, “lawyers only!”. It became comical. However, I never let it get to me. I began to take pleasure in their questioning, used it as an opportunity to proudly show my bar card to whomever asked. Because, yes I am a lawyer. Yes, I belong here. It’s my time and I am going to shine.

Please tell us about DBLO Firm.
DBLO Firm is a boutique full-service law firm. We handle civil, family and criminal cases. We also provide general counsel services to individuals and businesses. As my firm’s principle and managing attorney, I manage all aspects of the firms cases and business matters.

I am also a club champion for the Boys & Girls Club Metro Los Angeles “BGCMLA, ” which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage and support great futures for our communities’ youth in primarily underprivileged communities. BGCMLA has five club-house locations: Bell Gardens, Watts-Willowbrook, Challengers, Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens. Each club provides a safe place with encouraging staff and mentors to ensure every child has tools to succeed in school, work and life.

Every year since 2016, I’ve organized a holiday fundraiser and toy-drive for BGCMLA. On December 8, 2019, we held our 4th annual fundraiser & toy-drive at Porsche Downtown Los Angeles. We collected a ton of toys and raised money through a silent auction and raffle. 100% of the proceeds were directly donated to BGCMLA. We then distributed the toys collected to the children of the Nickerson Gardens clubhouse. This annual event and my firm’s yearly growth is what I’m most proud of; AND is what sets us apart from other law firms.

What further sets us apart is that we are passionate, professional and personally on the front-lines of advocacy for our clients and in regard to the most pressing social and political policy issues, representing underprivileged, privileged, low profile and high profile cases and clients. They are all treated with the same respect and they are all considered family. #DBLOfam

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would not do anything differently. Every step towards becoming a lawyer, the struggle, pain, fear and doubt are all apart of the process. I experienced every emotion possible but trusted that God brought me this far for a reason, for a purpose. I would not be who I am or where I am without the process, and trusting God’s plan. I would never change that.

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Image Credit:

Photos of Dominique E. Banos, Esq. by Arlene Mejorado

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