Natalie Orr ’11 has long been driven to help people in need. This passion runs like a thread throughout the Palo Alto, Calif., native’s law school career. It includes editing five chapters of the Jailhouse Lawyers Manual (a publication that helps prisoners bring cases in defense of their rights) and working at the Legal Aid Society’s juvenile rights division.
Next year, Orr will begin a prestigious fellowship funded by Chadbourne & Parke at The Door, an organization that provides youth with services such as health care, job placement, and GED classes. She will represent at-risk young people in immigration and family court through The Door’s Legal Services Center. (Through the fellowship, Orr will also maintain an office at Chadbourne, receive training at the firm, and participate in firm meetings and activities.)
“My focus may change over time, but I’m going to devote my career to providing legal services to low-income people,” says Orr, whose Columbia Law School years were marked by numerous academic honors, including serving as a Dean’s Public Interest Scholar and being twice named a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.
Through her work at several externships, Orr experienced the criminal justice system firsthand, at the highest levels, and from both sides. She is especially grateful for her time spent working with two Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York.
“Working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I was able to interact with witnesses, do legal research, and work with federal agents,” says Orr. “It helped me understand how complicated it is to decide what kind of sentence people deserve. So many factors come into play.”
Much of Orr’s work has been aided by her fluency in Spanish, attained during years studying Latin American literature. She was the primary contact for many Spanish-speaking clients and families at Legal Aid, and looks forward to using those skills in her new role at The Door.