It takes a special kind of person to be interested in something as detailed and demanding as the law; luckily for his clients, Simón Cantarero (‘04) is unique. In his own words, “I get paid to do homework, and I love it.” Since graduating from BYU Law in 2004, Simón has channeled this interest, paired with personal experience and knowledge, into a successful career as an attorney. Not only is Simón battle-tested in practicing law, he’s experienced in teaching it too. After spending countless, grueling hours as a student at the Law School, Simón returned years later as a professor.
His path from wide-eyed student to esteemed attorney may appear seamless, but Simón will be the first to explain that the journey has not been linear nor easy. While his hard work and dedication are undeniable, when reflecting on his ability to make pivotal decisions and to overcome daunting pitfalls, Simón attributes his success to his close relationship with the Lord. Even in the face of adversity, Simón is able to say, with gratitude and humility, that he has been “highly favored of the Lord.”
There are many things that Simón Cantarero loves about his job: working through new, difficult, complicated, and exciting challenges, helping others, and collaborating with diverse groups of people and professionals from various communities and disciplines. As enticing as this sounds, Simón admitted with full candor that his interest in the legal field stemmed from one driving force—the same that captivates many when choosing their profession—he didn’t want to be poor. This is an oversimplification, of course, but when his family immigrated to America, Simón became all too familiar with the various hurdles that marginalized groups face when trying to get legal help. Simón remembers translating for his mom and dad as they consulted with the immigration lawyers in Los Angeles after their move to the United States. These early experiences marked the beginning of a lifelong career as an advocate for those without a voice.
Like many other Law School alumni, Simón came to the law school for the cost effective tuition, and stayed for the incredible education and the uplifting experiences. Upon his acceptance to the BYU Law School, Simón recalls feeling apprehensive about the transition to law. He felt out of place, like he didn’t belong, and even wondered if his acceptance was a mistake made by the deans. When he expressed these thoughts to Dean Reese Hanson during a private conversation, he was reassured that he was chosen specifically and that he was wanted at BYU Law. Dean Hanson assured Simón that the Law School believed in him and was committed to his success. In addition to an incredible education, Simón mentions that BYU Law has provided him with lifelong friends. To incoming law students, he offers some sage advice: develop meaningful relationships with your classmates and a voracious appetite for continual learning, really love to learn.
Outside of the taxing demands of his legal work, Simón enjoys staying involved with various outreach programs and volunteer efforts. Most recently, Simón joined the BYU Law Alumni Board as Communities Co-chair. While he’s only been serving on the Board for a few months, Simón says he’s already reaping the benefits; he enjoys being able to create relationships with the recent grads, helping them maximize their legal education, and opening up potential job opportunities. And he invites other alumni to stay connected to the Law School: “Your legal education has blessed you—consider reinvesting those dividends back to the law school, its alumni, and students.”
Another organization near and dear to his heart is “And Justice For All,” a group that focuses on enabling the poor and the vulnerable to have “access to justice,” providing legal representation and support to those who need it most. Additionally, Simón has been closely involved in committee assignments and appointments by the Utah Supreme Court and two Utah governors, and with Utah Humanities, which focuses on community-building through events and conversations that lead to the mutual understanding and shared celebration of the “artifacts of the human experience” produced by peoples and cultures from all across Utah. Even with all his professional achievements, Simón has a different metric for his success. In his own words, “Success is looking around and realizing how many people you love, and the people who should love you actually do.” While Simón’s legal career may be extremely demanding, he still manages to prioritize what matters most: his family. Together they like to spend time together, even on very long road trips. Among the many impressive titles he’s received, Simón says that “father” is by far his favorite, and he makes a special effort to ensure that his three daughters Ruby, Nellie, and Rosita know this. When asked why he considers himself “highly favored of the Lord,” Simón could justifiably unpack his impressive resume; instead, he simply points to his “Lovely Ladies” - his wife, Jackie, and daughters.