“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“As a child growing up in Georgia, the presence of Martin Luther King, Jr. was everywhere. Photos of him appeared in churches, homes, and even barbershops,” says Allen Orr. It is no surprise that Martin Luther King, Jr. is someone Allen holds in such high regard, as well as motivated him to achieve similar goals in his own life.
Allen grew up on a dirt road in Valdosta, GA, on a family farm. They grew various crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton and tobacco that they would sell at auction. “Our family farm had everything: cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and a man-made fishing hole,” says Allen. His extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles all pulled together to take care of the farm. “What I remember most about the summers was the tobacco - planting it, hoeing it, cropping it, stringing it up in a barn, smoking it, then removing it. It would then be unstrung and placed in huge sheets to be carried to market. I do not smoke because as child I must have inhaled the equivalent of 30 packs during the summer.” Allen developed a strong respect for nature and community which provided him and his family their way of living.
From the age of 5, Allen had aspirations of becoming a lawyer and attending Morehouse College, a historically black college located in Atlanta which is the Alma Mater of Martin Luther King, Jr. Allen discovered many of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writings in middle school and was drawn to their nonviolent message. “I respected him for his civil rights work but I revered him for his work on social justice, trying to feed the poor, and his ability to communicate.” After 4 years of undergraduate studies at Morehouse, Allen received a B.A. in Philosophy and then went on to attend Howard University School of Law.
Due to his strong connection to nature while growing up, he had aspirations to pursue a career in Environmental Law. “I feel it is important to preserve and protect the environment that supports and fosters our lives.” In his second year of law school, his career path took a turn to Immigration Law. “Immigration Law picked me,” says Allen. He excelled in his Immigration 101 course which led to an in-house counsel position with an immigration investment company. Soon after graduating from law school, Allen joined one of the world’s largest law firms focusing on Employment Based immigration for almost 12 years.
In 2011, Allen decided to start his own boutique firm in Washington, DC. “I started my own firm, Orr Immigration Law Firm, to focus on my vision of a boutique modern law firm which offers big firm experience and service to medium and small companies and individuals.” Orr Immigration Law Firm now has a second office in New York City, as Allen wanted to establish a foothold in one of the most global cities in the world.
Besides being a lawyer, Allen enjoys tennis, and is a huge Rafael Nadal and Williams sisters fan, and has attended the U.S. Open since 1997. His other focus out of the field of law is access to quality education. “I serve on the board of Step Afrika, which promotes an appreciation for stepping (dance) and its use as an educational, motivational and healthy tool for young people. He is a huge fan of R&B music with an extensive collection which spans from obscure new artists to some of his favorites like Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. He describes his own personal style as professional with an edge. “I want people to look at me and say, “I want to hear what he has to say”.”
CADET honors Allen Orr for his humanitarianism, entrepreneurship and dedication to social justice.