Meet Vincenzo Mazza, 32, federal prosecutor with the Federal Prosecution Service of Canada and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2023 recipients
A FIRST-GENERATION CANADIAN and the first in his family to earn a university education, Vincenzo Mazza takes immense pride in having devoted the sweat equity to achieve his current position: putting himself through school by working several jobs and earning several scholarships. Cutting his teeth with big firms working class actions law, it wasn’t long before he diverted to follow his true passion — the thrill and stakes of criminal law. He ran his own criminal defence practice in London before making the switch to federal prosecutor. Protecting individual rights and upholding the rule of law to keep our communities safe, he will tell you is job does not involve winning or losing, but rather is the act of fairly and vigorously presenting all admissible evidence so that judge or jury can decide guilt or innocence.
What would you say is your single biggest business achievement?
Springing from student to teacher. My student life was a whirlwind: eight years; four degrees; three schools; two countries. Countless long days and sleepless nights learning the craft since. Now, years later, some of my proudest work is teaching at the Ontario Police College, PPSC and Western Law.
What about your biggest business obstacle — and how did you tackle it?
Privilege is alive and well in law. I come from a lower-class immigrant family in East London. I’m a first-generation lawyer and Canadian. I had no connections or handouts. I put myself through school and earned all my opportunities. It shaped how I practise law — I don’t care who you know, I care what you know.
Who, or what, was your biggest influence in your line of work?
My mentors, Cosmo Galluzzo and Kim Johnson. Cosmo is a criminal defence lawyer; when I was new, he introduced me to cases, clients and lawyering well beyond my years. Kim is a fellow prosecutor; she runs our office with equal parts grace and grit. Their mentorship is rocket fuel. I’m honoured to stand on their shoulders.
If you weren’t working in your current field, what would you be doing?
I’d open a bar or nightclub. In a cool and distant past life, I ran nightclubs to pay my way through law school. The service industry is a great business and a labour of love. Cheers!
And finally, what’s your guilty pleasure?