NEW YORK– Fil Am lawyer Lorna G. Schofield, a white-collar criminal defense attorney at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, has been recommended by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to serve as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In a statement released January 23, Schumer said that when he selects judges, “I always look for three things – excellence, diversity, and moderation – and Schofield exemplifies all of these qualities. I’m pleased to recommend her to President Obama for the Southern District Bench.”
There are five openings on the Southern District bench, and the White House has advanced nominations for two of them: Jesse Furman, the deputy chief appellate attorney in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Ronnie Abrams, special counsel for pro bono at Davis Polk & Wardwell. If nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Schofield would fill the seat held by Judge Shira Scheindlin, who took senior status last August.
Schumer said Schofield would make a great addition to the bench. Schofield was also the first Asian-American to be elected chair of the ABA Section of Litigation. If confirmed, Schofield would be the first ever Filipina on the federal bench.
Schofield, 56, was a partner at the Debevoise & Plimpton from 1991 until the end of last year. She became of counsel on Jan. 1, 2012. Before joining Debevoise, she worked for four years in the criminal division of the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s office. She graduated from Indiana University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and from NYU Law School, where she served as staff editor and note-and-comment editor of the NYU Law Review. She began her career at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & hamilton after graduating from New York University School of Law.
As Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, she worked as a prosecutor on cases involving domestic terrorism, arms smuggling and tax fraud.
A long-time member of the American Bar Association (ABA), Schofield has been active in the Section of Litigation and has served in numerous leadership positions. She was recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” in 2008 by the National Law Journal. She has participated in international demonstrations of U.S. trial techniques and mock trials for lawyers around the world. She has also spoken and testified on changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure concerning class actions and discovery.
In addition to her work in the ABA, Schofield has been a member of the American Law Institute, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York Council of Defense Lawyers.
Among her notable cases is her prosecution of 10 arms dealers charged with defrauding the United States to sell arms to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal. She is well-known for her successful defense of celebrity Rosie O’Donnell in a lawsuit with the publishers of her magazine, Rosie. Further, Schofield obtained a defense verdict in a class action trial where she represented a big four accounting firm.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) welcomed the news that Senator Charles Schumer of New York has sent the name of Lorna Schofield to the White House to serve as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of New York.
“Lorna Schofield is exceptionally well-qualified to serve as a federal district court judge,” said Tina Matsuoka, executive director of NAPABA. “If nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Schofield would be the first Filipino American in the history of the United States to serve as a federal judge. NAPABA applauds Senator Schumer for putting forward her name and once again confirming his strong commitment to advocating for the greater representation of well-qualified, diverse nominees to the federal judiciary.”
NAPABA added that “Ms. Schofield is a second-generation Filipino American whose life story is a testament to the American story of hard work and perseverance that beats the odds. She was the only child of a Filipina mother who came to the United States during the post-World War II reconstruction of the Philippines. Mother and daughter remained in the Midwest after Ms. Schofields father left the family when she was only three years old. She grew up in a blue collar community and received a full tuition scholarship to attend Indiana University.”
The Philippine American Bar Association in Southern California, also offered its congratulations to Schofield. “We join with NAPABA and the AAJC in commending Senator Schumer for recognizing her qualifications and the importance of diversity to the judiciary.”