Women is...: Gloria Allred, Civil Rights Champion

Gloria Allred, Civil Rights Champion

profession: A partner at the law firm of Allred, Maroko and Goldberg in L.A., she fights the good fight for women, children and minorities.

the basic story: A resolute attorney who's argued many high-profile sexual harassment suits, as well as employment discrimination and family law cases. Allred's also the founder and president of the Women's Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, and is a KABC radio talk show host.

born: July 3, 1941, in Philadelphia.
education: BA, English, University of Pennsylvania; MA, English, New York University; teaching credentials, University of California at Los Angeles; JD, Loyola University School of Law.

beginnings: Moved to Los Angeles in 1966 to teach at a high school in Watts. She was the first full-time employee of the Los Angeles Teachers Association, the precursor to the union. Went on to law school with the goal of improving teachers' rights.

a new focus: While fighting for teachers' rights as a lawyer and volunteering for the National Organization for Women in the '70s, "I realized what a great need there was to improve the status of women, to bring women into the mainstream as equal partners with men," she says. "I began to accept women's rights cases because I wanted to do something for women, but never knew this is what I would be doing from then on."

memorable cases: Winning the right for a custodial parent to move away with the children after a divorce, and obtaining damages for an HIV-positive person denied a pedicure. "It is a luxury to be frustrated," she says.

claim to fame: With 20 years' experience working on groundbreaking civil rights cases, her firm's taken on more womens' rights cases than any other in the nation. "We've earned the trust of many women, and we win cases."
on the Simpson civil verdict: Allred, who represented the Brown family during the criminal case against Simpson, stresses that "nothing can bring back Nicole and Ron. No amount of money can soothe the pain that the families will forever feel from the loss that they have suffered. But justice is nonetheless sweet."

current cases: A suit against the Boy Scouts of America on behalf of a little girl, which will go to trial in May '97. She's also representing Hunter Tyloe, an actress who entered into an agreement to appear on "Melrose Place," then lost the contract when the production company discovered she was pregnant, and Brittany Ashland, an alleged victim of battery at the hands of actor Charlie Sheen.

predictions: Says that we'll see an increasing number of child support cases. As welfare reform kicks in, more and more women and single parents will be forced into poverty, Allred says. "It's a major problem, and the government is failing miserably." Sexual harassment will continue to be an issue, and abortion will remain a "portable football."

on being a woman in the '90s: "I don't see it as being all that much different than several decades ago. I don't see significant change ... I see mostly token change."

family: Daughter, Lisa, who is an associate with her firm. Two grandchildren, Sam and Sarah.

parting shot: "We need more good women lawyers fighting the battle. I don't see any alternative; it's unacceptable not to be involved. Most of the voices we hear are men's voices, distorting or ignoring what women want. We need more women's voices, more political representation in all positions."