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Sotomayor Made Shaw Pittman Apologize for Partner’s Questions

Posted May 27, 2009 6:40 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor forced a Washington, D.C., law firm to apologize for a partner’s questions during a recruiting dinner in her third year at Yale Law School.

Sotomayor challenged questions about her Puerto Rican heritage posed by a partner at the firm then known as Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge, Washington Times reports, relying on a 1978 Washington Post article. The Associated Press also published a story.

Sotomayor had said she objected to these questions: ''Do law firms do a disservice by hiring minority students who the firms know do not have the necessary credentials and will then fire in three to four years? Would I have been admitted to the law school if I were not a Puerto Rican? Was I culturally deprived?''

She voiced her concerns during a formal interview the day after the recruiting dinner. She refused further interviews with the firm and filed a discrimination complaint with Yale, AP says. A student-faculty tribunal found the questions violated the school’s anti-discrimination rules and asked the law firm to submit a second letter of apology, deeming an earlier version too weak.

The law firm later merged into Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Previous coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Sotomayor's Nomination: Today's News"

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