Karen Aguilar | CHIRLA

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Karen Aguilar

Title: 
Staff Attorney

Ms. Aguilar is a Los Angeles native born to a family of Salvadoran refugees. Prior to law school, she earned an Associate of Arts in liberal arts from Santa Monica College, a Skills Certificate in legal office clerical assistant from Los Angeles Trade Technical Community College, and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology/law and society from University of California in Riverside—all of which she earned with honors. At Southwestern Law School, Ms. Aguilar was awarded the Wildman/Schumacher merit-based scholarship throughout all three years of law school for demonstrating exceptional academic promise and leadership.

While in law school, Ms. Aguilar was widely-regarded by her peers and professors as a campus leader devoted to public service work. She was the president of the Labor and Employment Law Association, academic chair of the Latino Law Students Association, a board member of the National Lawyers Guild, and an active member of the Public Interest Law Committee. Ms. Aguilar volunteered with Learning Rights Law Center, Los Angeles County Bar Association's Domestic Violence Project and created a partnership between Southwestern Law School's Labor and Employment Law Association and A New Way of Life Reentry Project to help people get back on their feet by expunging their criminal records. As a clerk for the law school's Immigration Law Clinic, she represented clients in U visa and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases and created a DACA presentation for high school students and their parents. Her service was recognized by the Mexican American Bar Foundation, the Latino Prosecutors Foundation, the California Employment Lawyers Association, and Southwestern Law School's Public Service Program.

Ms. Aguilar's work experience is wide and varied. She developed strong litigation skills as a law clerk for federal government agencies, such as the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and United States Department of Labor Office of the Solicitor. She also had the distinguished honor of serving as a full-time law clerk for the Honorable Harry Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Ms. Aguilar continued her litigation work at the Law Offices of Victor L. George where she assisted in high-profile jury trials regarding employment discrimination and wrongful death cases. Her experience in employment discrimination also contributed to her success as an employee relations specialist for a Fortune 500 company. She transitioned into practicing immigration law because she felt a call to action to help her community in this tumultuous political climate. 

Outside of CHIRLA, Ms. Aguilar is the assistant gala director of the Mexican American Bar Foundation where she coordinates an annual fundraising gala to celebrate trailblazers in the legal community and award first-generation Latino/a law students hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to fund their legal education.