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This semester finds Olivia Orlando ’16 navigating a full course load, working on cases at the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, preparing for the fall Senior Prize Trial Competition as well as a mock trial competition that will be held at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in the last week of October, and conducting Student Bar Association meetings as the Executive President.
“I try not to think about it all at once,” laughs Orlando as she details her hectic schedule with calm resolve.
Orlando grew up in Queens, N.Y., and earned her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Behavioral Criminal Justice from Northeastern University before coming to Albany Law.
“I am looking forward to getting back in the courtroom for the mock trial competitions,” said Orlando, who just returned from the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, where she spent this past summer working in the Criminal Court Bureau under a student practice order. “I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with enormously talented ADAs who exhibit both passion and genuine dedication to their work. I assisted my supervising ADAs by conducting arraignments, managing the AP2 calendar, conferencing cases with defense counsel, obtaining corroborating supporting depositions from complaining witnesses, researching applicable case law, and attending police interviews. The ADAs never made me feel like I was 'just an intern,' so I loved every second of the hands-on action.”
“When the judge returned with a guilty verdict, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face—that was the moment I knew I was in the right field. I had never been that happy at work before.”
As for the mock trial competitions, Orlando’s excitement and preparedness were clear. “The Queens DA trial competition is a two-day murder trial. I earned a spot on the school’s trial team and will be competing as a prosecution advocate. We only have three weeks to prepare the case, so I’m excited to see how Albany Law stacks up against the other schools. I also just finished competing in the first round of the Albany Law Senior Prize Trial Competition. It was incredible to see what we’ve learned in the classroom for the past two years come to life through the civil trial.”
As a 3L with a concentration in Criminal Law & Procedure, Orlando expressed her hope to advance to the criminal trial component of the competition in the spring.
For her 1L summer internship, Orlando accepted an offer from the Albany County District Attorney's office, where she worked in Domestic Violence Court at Albany City Court. She also worked in the Town of New Scotland Court, where she was assigned her first trial to prosecute. “I was nervous when I was first assigned the trial because I had only taken 1L courses, but my supervisor [Renee Merges ’83] made sure that I was prepared. She met with me several times to make sure that I was developing a working knowledge of the pertinent rules to successfully conduct the trial. When the judge returned with a guilty verdict, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face—that was the moment I knew I was in the right field. I had never been that happy at work before!”
During the fall of her 2L year, Orlando enrolled in a four-credit field placement with the Albany DA in the office’s Special Victims Unit (SVU)—an area of law that has been close to her heart since her time in undergraduate. “One summer in college, I volunteered at the Queens Child Advocacy Center (CAC). It was that experience that helped me truly develop my passion for helping victims of heinous crimes.” When asked about her experience in the SVU, Orlando said, “Almost all of the SVU ADAs were Albany Law alumni, so we instantly connected by talking about common professors we’ve had and interning with the office. They empathized with what it was like to be a law student and took me under their wings. I was able to learn so much through observing their process and trials that they allowed me to conduct three Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) hearings in Albany County Court. I left with an appreciation and understanding of what it was like to be an SVU prosecutor.”
In college, Orlando participated in Northeastern’s five-year Co-op Educational Program, where she had the opportunity to work for a nationwide law firm during her first six-month co-op term. It was at the firm that she determined she was not interested in “big law.” “During my second term in the co-op program, I worked in a clinic at Harvard Law School while simultaneously volunteering at LIFT as a client advocate. It was the combination of these two experiences that really pushed me towards wanting to pursue a career in the public sector. Knowing that I wanted to be in the public sector made my decision to come to Albany Law School that much easier.”
When asked “Why Albany Law?” Orlando responded without hesitation.
“Albany is the capital of my home state; it’s where bills are passed and the government works," she said. "I think that coming here has definitely been advantageous for me in regards to the opportunities that I have been able to experience while working in government offices in New York’s powerful capital—experience that I probably would not have gained if I had chosen to attend another law school.”
Though Orlando has enjoyed her time at Albany Law School and the “small city on the rise” atmosphere of the community, she plans to return to the New York City area after graduation this spring and hopes to secure a job in a DA’s office after taking the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) with the New York Component in July 2016.
“My family is located in Queens and Brooklyn, so I ultimately want to make my way back home, but there is no doubt in my mind that the opportunities I have been afforded in Albany have shaped my future as an attorney,” she said.
When asked where she sees herself in five years, Orlando said she'd like to be prosecuting felonies, preferably in a homicide unit or SVU. She urged incoming law students to get involved on campus and maintained that one of the best things she ever did for herself at Albany Law was to run for a position on the Student Bar Association each year of law school.
“Everyone told me I was going to be too busy to get involved on campus, but I am glad I didn’t listen. I’ve been able to foster relationships with fellow students, faculty, and alumni through my Student Bar Association involvement and I am confident these relationships will last throughout my professional career.”