I’m Aaron Gwilliam.
I miss the smell of second-hand smoke. Actually, it is a combination of dust, smoke, and grease. To me, it is the smell of work. While growing up my dad worked as a logger and truck driver, just like everyone else in our town. I’ve never met a more humble, kind, and hard-working person in my life. Dad worked 10-12-hour days and would stay in logging camps for long periods of time. My two brothers and I would work on our farm while he was away. We’d miss him, especially when things went wrong.
Logging is consistently rated as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. If you look at my Dad, you can see why. He walks with a significant limp and has scars on his hands and face. You can see missing and replaced teeth when he smiles. All of these come from work injuries.
I live in Salt Lake City now and sometimes feel like I am a million miles from home. I work in an office with a nice chair and custom desk. I wear dress shoes and slacks, not boots and jeans. At times I feel like I’ve betrayed my upbringing. I wonder if I made the right choice because my life feels foreign to me – like I don’t belong. Part of me wishes I was home logging, cutting firewood, bucking limbs from trees, and doing farm work. I miss the humble, salt of the earth folks. Those that work hard every day, rain or shine. It is their blood, sweat, and tears that make the world turn. These are my people and I am one of them.
In the end, I know I made the right decision to become a lawyer. I sue insurance companies on behalf of people that get hurt at work. I’m not a silk-stocking downtown corporate or insurance defense sell-out. I help real people with real problems. I help those that sacrifice their bodies for their boss to get rich. I treat my clients like family and I will match their blood, sweat, and tears with my own before I am done with their case because when I sit down with a client, I see my dad. I remember times when he couldn’t work because he was hurt. I remember neighbors who were killed or lost limbs while at work.
My dad taught me that any job done well and with integrity was something to be proud of.
I am proud of where I come from. I am proud of who I am. And I love helping the Davids of the world slay their oppressing Goliaths.
U.S. District Court District of Utah, 2011
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 2011
Honors and Awards
L. Warden Hanel Memorial Law Scholarship, 2010 – 2011
Professional Associations & Memberships
J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Personal Injury Section Chair
Utah Association for Justice – Workers’ Compensation Chair
Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington, J.D.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, B.A.
Major: Business Management
Extraterritorial Effect of States’ Homestead Exemption in the Ninth Circuit, Notes: Eastern District of Washington Bankruptcy, Volume XXII, Number 1, 2011
I’m Daniel Vazquez.
$46. That is how much my father had in his pocket when he left Cuba and arrived to this country in 1961. Right away he got to work, cleaning movie theatres at night and busing tables during the day. He then waited tables for almost two decades. From there he worked making and selling juice out of a truck. Then he painted houses and then worked for a paint supply company. There was no thirty years, retirement party, and gold watch for my father. 59 years after arriving in this country, he still works part-time. More than half of a century of work to try to create opportunities for me and my siblings.
Now I see others who are putting in the work to build a better life and create those same opportunities for their kids. An unlucky few, through no or little fault of their own, are injured on the job. A workplace injury can be devastating. There is a system in place to take care of medical bills and compensate workers while they heal, but that system often fails those workers. A lot of times, insurance companies are great until a claim gets expensive or the healing process takes longer than expected. That is when the denials come, and a system that is supposed to be there for workers fails them. Those are the people I represent, the ones that the system has failed. Nothing makes me prouder than when I can help make it right.
Whether it be in English or Spanish, I’m proud to offer a strong voice for injured workers who need it the most.
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, J.D.
Florida International University, Miami, Florida, B.A.
Major: Political Science
This is also available in: Spanish