Starting a new business is a complicated process. It requires ambition, time, and money–not to mention legal expertise. That’s where Jessica Vittorio ’11 comes in. Vittorio’s Dallas-based law firm, which she established in 2015, focuses on providing startups and small business owners with the insight and advice they need to grow their business. To date, Vittorio has served more than 1,000 businesses and handled over $200 million in transactions.

“One thing that never ceases to amaze me about Jessica is her phenomenal professionalism,” says Graham Klemme, who met Vittorio at Dallas Startup Week. “The stress in this line of work is real, and maintaining composure is difficult. Jessica is the kind of person who is always liable to overcommit but nevertheless follows through on every commitment. That mindset is fundamental to the community she hopes to serve, and it makes her a great attorney—especially for the little guy.”

The daughter of two successful entrepreneurs, Vittorio decided she was going to be a lawyer when she was in middle school. She majored in political science at Southwestern, where she was involved with a number of organizations, including Student Congress, the Student Foundation, Delta Delta Delta, the Pre-Law Society, and the Student Affairs Council. After receiving her J.D. from Baylor Law School, Vittorio worked as a law clerk with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and as legislative counsel in the office of U.S. Representative Brian Babin in Washington, D.C., before launching her firm. 

Vittorio has spoken at over 500 events, including Dallas Startup Week and Austin Startup Week, and was named a finalist for Dallas Startup Week’s Startup Evangelist of the Year Award in 2019. She also is an adjunct professor at Collin College in Frisco, Texas, and has guest lectured at the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of North Texas. But she is more than a business attorney and educator; she is also a community advocate and volunteer. She has provided legal assistance to nonprofit organizations that address issues ranging from homelessness to mental health. In 2019, she served as a member of an American Bar Association delegation that provided pro bono legal counsel to detained immigrants seeking asylum at the South Texas border, an eye-opening experience that she shared in a TEDxFrisco talk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she stepped in to assist and represent people who were at risk of being illegally evicted from their homes. 

Vittorio also is an active member of First United Methodist Church Dallas, where she has served as a lay leader on multiple committees and commissions. She was elected as one of four lay delegates from the North Texas Conference to General Conference 2020, the global gathering and legislative arm of the United Methodist Church. 

“From the time Jessica was a young child, I always felt that she would be an agent for change in the world,” says her mother, Donna Vittorio-Hunter. “As she has grown into the amazing woman she is today, I’m so incredibly proud of her fearless nature, her kind heart, and the tenacity that she displays as she finds new ways to not just learn and grow herself, but to actively engage in ways to help many others succeed as well.”

Vittorio remains a proud supporter of Southwestern. She’s a past president of the Dallas Chapter of the Southwestern University Alumni Association and co-founder of Pirates Who Tech, which connects alumni in the technology and entrepreneurial communities. 

“Jessica is a prime example of a Southwestern graduate we can all be proud to share an alma mater with,” says Amy Crook Kowalski ’11. “She exemplifies our core values of promoting a passion for intellectual and personal growth, fostering diverse perspectives, and encouraging activism in the pursuit of justice and the common good. She lives out daily the motto we hold so dear: non quis sed quid [not who but what].”

For her generous spirit and outstanding contributions to the legal field, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Jessica Vittorio with the Distinguished Young Alumna Award.