Gloria Allred is known as a fierce fighter for women's rights who goes after the likes of media mogul Aaron Spelling and actor Rob Lowe in high-profile employment discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits. Her philosophy is influenced by a personal trauma: She was raped while on vacation in Mexico in 1966, and almost died as a result of the illegal abortion she had to get to terminate the resulting pregnancy. She still gets emotional when she discusses the matter. Allred, 67, was raised in a modest Philadelphia row house as the only child of parents who had little education. Her desire to do better led her to the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated as a single mother. Although she had wanted to go to law school, that was pushed aside by the need to support her daughter, and instead she began teaching. She came to Los Angeles with her second husband in 1968, and attended Loyola Law School. She then co-founded Allred Maroko & Goldberg LLP, and has been practicing with her two law school friends for more than 30 years. Allred recently sat down with the Business Journal in her Wilshire Boulevard office to discuss her life and her law practice.

Question: Tell me about your parents .

Answer: My parents are, unfortunately, no longer alive. My parents were Morris and Stella Bloom, and both only had an eighth-grade education. My dad was a door-to-door salesman and my mom was a full-time homemaker.

Q: What did your father sell?

A: He sold enlargements for photographers. It was a tough business, and he literally went door to door. He worked six days a week and on the seventh he would sit at his desk and prepare for the next week. We would go to the post office and mail his letters, and then we would go to the movies. He would often stay in the park and wait for me to come out of the movie and he wouldn't say why. But I realized years later that he couldn't afford tickets for both of us.

Q: Despite your family's lack of money, you attended an Ivy League college.

A: My parents always encouraged me to get a good education. My dad always said, "Don't worry, I will save and wherever you want to go, you will be able to go." He didn't earn very much, but he saved just about everything for me. I remember him in the same suit all the time and a couple of different shirts. I don't ever remember him buying anything for himself.

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