Growing up in Hartford, Je’Quana Orr ‘18 was not thinking about a legal career. Basketball was her passion.
“I lived and breathed basketball,” Orr said. “I wanted to be the first female in the NBA.”
Last year she got some court time when she argued her first case as an associate at Robinson & Cole LLP. Orr, who had been admitted to the Connecticut bar days before, won a restraining order for a pro bono client.
“It felt really good to help this woman,” Orr said. “The person she needed the order for was really bad news —so it was kind of life or death.”
Orr’s introduction to law began in the summer of 2007, when, as a rising high school sophomore, she participated in the first Summer Mock Trial Competition at UConn School of Law. The program brought high school students from Hartford to the law school campus, where they prepared a mock trial with help from faculty and law students.
“Everything was so new to me and the program was so in-depth,” Orr said. “I realized I really enjoyed that kind of legal thinking.”
Professor Jennifer Mailly, who runs the mock trial program, said Orr stood out as once as an attentive, engaged student.
“She was a superstar from the beginning,” Mailly said. “She was all of 15 years old and she was so poised and intelligent. It was really impressive.”
After graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2015 and joining the Connecticut National Guard, Orr applied to law school. UConn was her first choice, and once she was accepted and enrolled she threw herself into student organizations and clinics. Now, a year after graduating, she credits her hands-on experiences in law school for preparing her for a professional career.
After her second year at UConn Law, Orr spent the summer interning at Robinson & Cole, the Hartford firm that sponsored the Summer Mock Trial Program at UConn Law. She said the environment there was immediately attractive to her.
“Everyone here is so helpful and genuinely interested in your success,” Orr said. “It feels very authentic and it made me really want to work here.”
Orr now works in the firm’s Business Litigation Group. She’s not sure yet what practice area she will ultimately settle into.
“Everything is just so new and exciting right now,” she said. “I am learning so much every single day.”