Judge Lorna G. Schofield Sworn Into Office

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK, NY – Judge Lorna Schofield, the first American of Filipino descent ever to serve on the federal district court bench, was formally sworn into office March 28.  Chief U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Loretta A. Preska, administered the oath of office at the courthouse’s Ceremonial Courtroom at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.

In attendance during Schofield’s installation were her close friends, colleagues, political, and judicial luminaries that included her partner, Stephan Landsman, and her daughter. US Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) was likewise present as well as Mary Jo White, the first woman to serve as US Attorney for the SDNY.

Writing for the FilAm.net.  lawyer Rio Guerrero, wrote that besides Senator Schumer, Temple University Beasley School of Law Dean JoAnne A. Epps delivered remarks, “sharing inspiring and funny stories about Lorna with those in attendance” at a reception following her installation.

“But it was her partner Stephan Landsman a visiting professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, who acknowledged Lorna’s Philippine heritage. He described Lorna’s journey as the immigrant promise fulfilled for Lorna’s mother – a Filipina who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II to be with her U.S. military veteran husband and to raise her family,” Guerrero wrote.

In recommending Lorna G. Schofield to serve “as a judge on the prestigious U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” Senator Schumer said Schofield “would make a great addition to the bench.”

“As a top flight lawyer and former Assistant US Attorney, Schofield has had a distinguished legal career and would make a fantastic judge,” said Schumer.

“When I select judges, I always look for three things – excellence, diversity, and moderation – and Schofield exemplifies all of these qualities.”
Subsequently, President Obama sent her nomination to the U.S. Senate on April 25, 2012 for confirmation.  On Dec. 13, 2012, the U.S. Senate by a unanimous vote, 91-0, confirmed her appointment. Schofield replaced retiring Judge Shira A. Sheindlin.

“Lorna Schofield has been called one of the top trial attorneys in the nation, and no doubt her incredible experience as a litigator will serve her well on the Southern District bench,” said Southern District Chief Judge Preska.  “The court will benefit greatly from her expertise and insight.”

At the time of her nomination, Congresswoman Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), said:  “Lorna Schofield is an exceptionally well qualified nominee with the intellect, experience, and credentials to serve as an Article III judge.”  She commended Senator Schumer for recommending Schofield, and thanked President Obama for his firm commitment to promoting diversity in the federal judiciary.

Prior to her appointment, she was a litigation partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. 

Judge Schofield’s legal practice focused on white-collar crime and complex commercial litigation including commercial and financial fraud, class actions, and corporate bankruptcies.  She is the first Asian American to chair the 70,000-member litigation section of the American Bar Association and has extensive experience speaking on topics such as trial tactics and women in the legal profession.

Judge Schofield received a B.A. magna cum laude from Indiana University and a J.D. from New York University, where she was an editor of the New York University Law Review.

The only child in her family, Schofield said, “My father left us when I was 3. My mother came to the United States because of her idealism about the country that had saved her during World War II, and remained here, I believe, because of the stigma and shame she would have suffered had she returned to the Philippines as a divorced woman. She was a pharmacist and stressed achievement, independence and self-sufficiency as essential values.”

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