Joseph Conway ’84SVC
Produced by: Office of Marketing and Communications
In his sophomore year at St. John’s University, Joseph Conway ’84SVC started taking night classes to accommodate his job as a courtroom clerk. “I was a 19-year-old studying criminal justice with students in their 30s and 40s, who were already established, and had been through what was coming for me,” he said. “I developed focus and became more mature. I also started making contacts.”
It was during this period that Conway realized he wanted to pursue a career in public service. "Working in the federal courthouse in Brooklyn and taking criminal justice courses at St. John's sharpened my vision and enabled me to say, ‘This is what I want to do, ’” Conway said. “It made me believe I could succeed in law school."
A native of Flushing, NY, Conway grew up near St. John's and was a fan of the men's basketball team. "It was an easy fit for me,” he said. “They had the program I wanted, it was an easy commute, and with my interest in sports, I already felt a connection to the University."
After graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 1988, Conway eventually became an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where he worked for the next 15 years. Since then, he has been in private practice. He prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, such as that of physician Michael Swango, a serial killer who murdered several patients, and John Spano, who nearly pulled off an elaborate fraud scheme when he attempted to purchase the New York Islanders hockey team in 1996.
"Helping people was always my goal," Conway said. "Between what I learned in class and the practical experience I gained in the courts, becoming a prosecutor was a natural progression for me. I didn't want to be a corporate lawyer. I wanted to be a prosecutor, either on the federal level or in a district attorney's office. It's a wonderful form of public service."
Conway describes his years in the office of the US Attorney as professionally satisfying—and instructive. "Greed seems to be the common thread in most of the white-collar crimes I prosecuted,” he said. “As a prosecutor, you try to understand their thought processes, and why they did what they did. It's made for an extremely interesting career.”
Conway remains connected to alma mater. "My daughter is currently a student in St. John’s physician assistant program, so there's a family legacy there,” he said. “Six years of night school there made me who I am today, and St. John's will always have a place in my heart."