Friday, September 11, 2015

Part of our series of profiles of some of the newest law students this year. Read more here.

By Suzanne Bowness 

Joseph ViscomiJoseph Viscomi was a Grade 9 student at Central Technical School in Toronto when he heard a pitch about U of T law school.

“My most vivid memory was the first time Danielle came into my classroom and pitched the LAWS [Law in Action Within Schools] program. She said something along the lines of ‘with law you can actually make a change. You can really make an impact on your city, on your country, and your province.’ That was the beginning of my curiosity toward the legal field.”

Since then, Viscomi, a first-generation Canadian with no previous role models in the field, oriented most of his activities towards the law. He applied to, and was accepted in LAWS, a three-year outreach program founded by the Faculty of Law. The program encourages students to attend post-secondary institutions, adds law and justice themes to the academic curriculum, and sets up opportunities for job-shadowing various members of the legal profession.

And on the advice of his law mentors, he majored in political science at U of T while working to support himself though his degree. “I am the first in my family to attend university. Financially, I have struggled also. Affording university has been a challenge as neither of my parents earn much money.”

Viscomi says he is grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the law school’s Law School Access Program (LSAP), a free LSAT prep course for qualifying low-income students. “I would have a very hard time affording such a course. LSAP also allowed me to connect with others who were interested in law school. Some will be joining me at U of T this year!”

Now 22 years old, Viscomi says he wants to be a lawyer to empower others. He thinks he might be interested in business or technology law, but is keeping an open mind. If those decisions are open, his focus on U of T was laser-sharp, and not just because he loves Toronto and enjoys being near his family.

“Through the LAWS program I spent so many hours at the law school, and I knew so many law students. I knew that if I applied and got in, I would accept because I'm comfortable here.”