When Myla Picco was in Grade 5, she organized her first fundraiser.
In Grade 8, she shadowed a cousin who practised law to learn more about it as a career.
In 2014, Picco earned the top marks in her graduating class as a double major in criminology and sociology.
She’s won countless bursaries and scholarships and academic awards.
Among her recent kudos, Picco received a $5,000 ATHENA award last fall for community involvement, leadership potential, academic excellence and inspiration to women.
Now, on the cusp of graduation from the Faculty of Law—with second-highest marks in her class—this young woman continues to set a gold standard for academic achievement, giving back, and being all-around amazing.
Picco and the law school were a natural fit. Windsor Law’s theme of “Access to Justice” resonates deeply with Picco, who is a self- described “people person and advocate.”
“Our law school has a collegial and supportive culture,” she says. “Students share what we learn in the classroom by acting in the greater community.”
This is something that Picco has long embraced. During her high school and undergraduate years, she gave great swaths of her time to helping others. She volunteered with the Downtown Mission Out of the Cold Program and Coldest Night of the Year Walk; the cancer fundraising initiative, Transition to Betterness; and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Community Clean Up.
As a university undergrad, Picco was a Students Orienting Students (SOS) co-ordinator, responsible for orientation programming for incoming students, for recruiting, training, and retaining more than 200 campus volunteers, and supervising multiple volunteer committees.
Picco’s first-year law experience introduced her to its Pro Bono Students Canada chapter, where as a volunteer for the group’s refugee project, she drafted humanitarian and compassionate grounds applications for refugees who live in Windsor. She considers the “most rewarding experience of my academic career” to be the first time she learned that an application she’d submitted had been approved.
She worked as a research assistant to law professor Noel Semple for a project that focused on the dynamics of personal plight legal practice and the accessibility of lawyer services. “This helped me realize my interest in assisting people with their legal issues, rather than corporate clients,” she says.
In second year law, Picco became involved with the Family Law Project, the flagship project of Pro Bono Students Canada. It gives students the opportunity to work alongside lawyers to assist unrepresented litigants in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.
Now in third year, Picco is the Family Law Project co-ordinator. She conducts client intake with unrepresented litigants and assists Legal Aid Ontario staff and duty counsel by drafting and filing court documents at the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor.
Picco’s involvement with the Semple research and the Family Law Project had a tremendous impact upon her. “They gave me insight into how I can provide more accessible legal services.”
She also serves as a student ambassador on the Ontario Justice Education Network Working Group, and on the Faculty of Law’s High School Outreach team. She is the lead teaching assistant for Law and Business Administration.
How does she manage to handle her long list of obligations? “My calendar app on my phone is my best friend,” she laughs. “I have good time management skills and know what to take on—and when to say, ‘no’.”
After graduation, Picco will article with the Windsor law firm of Greg Monforton & Partners Injury Lawyers, which focuses on personal injury law. She intends to continue her involvement with Pro Bono, perhaps as a lawyer supervisor in the future.
Picco considers her mother her mentor. “She is the most motivated person. She is extremely successful. From a young age, she was involved in non-profits and board of directors’ work. She set a prime example of what I want to become.”
She’s not confining her future to the idea of only practising law. “I might be interested in teaching as a sessional. Continuing with my community work. Doing something unconventional.
“A law degree opens doors to many opportunities.”