Joel Tallerico
Joel Tallerico spent much of his time as a UCalgary Law student finding ways to make the university experience better for everyone. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

May 30, 2024

Class of 2024: Inspiring UCalgary law grad ‘quickly learned that I can’t be successful alone’

Joel Tallerico makes many outstanding contributions to student life on his way to earning a joint JD/MBA degree

I first encountered Joel Tallerico in his first year of law school. He was part of the “COVID Class” — the cohort whose entire first year of law school, and much of their second, was online — and struggling with his mental wellness and anxiety. 

He reached out to the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society for some of the organization’s free counselling sessions offered to law students. Buoyed by the success of those sessions, he created a video to encourage other students to seek help when needed.   

“Going through my first year during the pandemic really highlighted the stressors that come along with being a law student,” explained Tallerico. “It made it more difficult to have the normal social structures in place that help support positive mental health and well-being, which is community. When we have closer communities and close-knit networks, we have more people to lean on and look to for support when things are difficult.” 

Community builder at heart 

Tallerico, who will cross the convocation stage with a joint JD/MBA, spent much of his law school career helping students connect and finding ways to make the law school experience better for everyone. 

He firmly believes that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” His drive to give back to his communities started in high school (Go St. Mary’s Saints!) and continued through his work in politics. When looking at opportunities to use his skills in law school, he found a good fit with the Society of Law Students (SLS). 

He was the first-year student representative, the VP finance in his second year, capped off with two years as SLS president. During his presidency, Tallerico brought back many popular events put on hold during the pandemic and helped to create a new VP for equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

He was also instrumental in creating the SLS Wellbeing Committee, the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, and the SLS Lounge Committee. As chair of the Wellbeing Committee, he introduced regular surveys on student mental health, established No Stress November, and a speaker series on building resiliency. He also worked on creating the UCalgary Law Connects program using the Ten Thousand Coffees platform to create stronger bonds between students of different years. 

"I quickly learned that I can’t be successful alone; it takes a community.

“It’s as simple as having an upper-year student share a CAN (Condensed Annotated Notes), which helped me do well on mid-terms, which allowed me to get a summer job. 

“Having a strong community also ensures that all members of that community are healthy, supported, included, and have positive experiences, which is especially important in law school, which is tough enough on its own,” he adds. 

Tallerico was awarded the law school’s Campbell McLaurin Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to student life. 

“Joel is a true leader, and I've enjoyed getting to know him during his time in law school,” says Dr. Elizabeth Whitsitt, PhD. “He has a genuine interest in understanding people and the world. Joel's ability to think critically and listen with compassion are just two of the qualities I admire most in him. I'll miss seeing Joel in my class and our hallways.”   

Passion for law sprouted from work in politics

Born and raised in Calgary, Tallerico’s interest in law grew during his undergraduate studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he completed the Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management, with a specialization in strategic public opinion and policy analysis, followed by a Master of Political Management (he’ll have 13 letters after his name with all his credentials!). 

During his undergraduate studies, he volunteered and worked in politics, on campaigns, on Parliament Hill, in a constituency office, and the Senate. He combined his graduate studies with his job running a campaign (for his now father-in-law) for the 2015 election as his capstone project. 

“It was a very exciting and busy period of my life. We won the election, my father-in-law was sworn into Parliament, and I graduated from my master’s and started a new job on Parliament Hill, all in less than two weeks.” 

He eventually moved into a role with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, first as a legislative assistant and later as a senior policy adviser. 

“I remember the day the pandemic started, and our ministry was in the heart of everything going on.” 

Tallerico quickly gained valuable experience looking at amendments to the Emergencies Act and ways to prevent price gouging. 

He also got his legal feet wet working on two pieces of legislation, including getting the Accessible Canada Act passed, and the Federal Prompt Payment for Construction Work Act, which he worked on from policy inception through having the bill passed in Parliament. 

“Working on those two bills and the Emergencies Act really reinforced my interest in law. I love politics and working in government but wanted to strengthen that passion from a legal perspective.” 

(I asked Tallerico if his experience drafting legislation allowed him to sail through the required first-year Legislation course, to which he replied with a chuckle. “I’ve written a law and passed two laws, and you want to know the most humbling moment? I got a B on my legislation drafting assignment!” Probably a rare occasion where life doesn’t imitate art.) 

Joel Tallerico acted as host during former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s fireside chat at UCalgary Law in April 2023.

Joel Tallerico acted as host during former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s fireside chat at UCalgary Law in April 2023.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Worlds collide in fondest memory

When asked to reflect on some of his favourite moments of law school, one event stands out — when the law school hosted The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien for a fireside chat, which Tallerico hosted. 

“Who gets to sit down next to a former prime minister and lead a conversation about his tenure as our leader? I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that was something I’ll remember for a very long time.” 

While everyone will miss his energy and enthusiasm on campus, Tallerico starts the next stage of his legal career this summer when he joins Fasken’s Calgary office as an articling student. And while he joins our alumni family, his impact on the law school will be felt for a long time. 

“Joel is the definition of a great leader, and his decisions are rooted in kindness, compassion, and empathy for others,” says second-year student Robin Young, who served on SLS with Tallerico for two years. 

“Joel seemingly effortlessly balances the ability to be diligent, hardworking, and serious while also being a supportive, fun, consistent, and validating friend to all who meet him. He has been the backbone of the law school to cultivate a non-competitive, supportive community of future lawyers in Calgary and beyond.”

Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2024.

Graduates, as you prepare to transition away from student life, we'd like to also welcome you into the UCalgary alumni community. Learn about the programs, benefits and services available exclusively to UCalgary grads, and be sure to keep in touch.

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