CARIBBEAN AMERICAN LEGACY AWARDS
Moya O’Connor, the founder of the Caribbean Attorneys Network and a senior trial attorney at MetLife, has made it her life’s mission to help aspiring attorneys find opportunities to make it in today’s competitive world.
A success story in her own right, O’Connor graduated from Georgetown University in 2006, earning a bachelor’s degree in government with a minor in sociology. Following her undergraduate work, O’Connor pursued her Juris Doctorate at Brooklyn Law School. She told the Queens Tribune that her interest in law started at a young age.
“I did moot court and mock trials in the seventh grade and I always did really well with public speaking,” O’Connor said. “I guess you could say I always had a certain confidence when I’m in front of a crowd. So, I took that with me and pursued a legal career.”
Her strengths as a student served her well in law school. She was inducted into the Moot Court Honor Society and later served as a coach for the Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Team.
Her skill set outside of academia has also brought her success. She was admitted to the New York State Bar and the US District Court for the Southern and Eastern districts of New York.
Looking back on her own experiences going through the trials and tribulations of becoming an attorney, O’Connor knew that she wanted to give back to young people who are facing the same obstacles and hardships she once faced as a child. She decided that the best way to go about doing that was to start a support program of her own.
O’Connor launched the Caribbean Attorneys Network (CAN), an organization geared towards the development of attorneys, law students and legal professionals of Caribbean descent.
“It obvious that as West Indians, we have a very different culture,” she said. “Everything from the way we speak to our food, the way we think.
Even the way we were brought up is just different. I think that it’s important that we have a home for attorneys and professionals, a place where they can come and meet someone just like them who came from similar backgrounds, went to similar schools and had the same upbringing.
We’re also here in New York, where West Indians are everywhere. I was actually surprised that there wasn’t an organization like this already. People gravitated towards [CAN] almost immediately.”
CAN’s work includes connecting young professionals to experienced leaders in the field, bringing people together for events—such as brunches to discuss different aspects of career development—and creating valuable work relationships and other networking-based activities.
Her work with the program has brought her acclaim and recognition from all corners of the country. CAN was the 2016 recipient of the Bar Leaders Innovation Award from the New York State Bar Association. In 2017, The Network Journal recognized O’Connor as a 40-Under-Forty honoree, and the publication News Americas Now included her on its list of “12 Caribbean Executives You Should Know.” In 2016, O’Connor was chosen to be a member of the Defense Association of New York’s Diversity Initiative Class of 2016.
“It’s so crazy,” she laughed. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that this kind of success could happen. CAN was just this idea that I remember writing down in a book that I had—What I wanted it to be. To see all of those ideas come to life has been nuts.”
When asked about being honored by the Queens Tribune, O’Connor seemed thrilled.
“I’m so honored to be a part of this,” she said. “I’m looking forward to Thursday’s event.”