Supreme Court Nominations

Blogger Says GOP Questioned Him About Sotomayor’s Solo Practice

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A blogger who wrote about a potential ethics issue connected to Sonia Sotomayor’s solo law practice says he has been questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s minority legal staff as they prepare for hearings next week on the federal appeals judge’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Blogger Eric Turkewitz believes his questioners were exploring several issues, including one he raised about the solo law practice called Sotomayor & Associates: Why did Sotomayor tack “& Associates” onto her firm’s name if she had no associates? And was the name consistent with advisory ethics opinions? He speculates about the GOP’s interest in the issue in a post at his New York Personal Injury law Blog.

Sotomayor ran the practice from her Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment from 1983 to 1986, the New York Times noted in a story earlier this week. She told the Senate she counseled family and friends in the solo practice in their business, real estate and estate planning decisions. At the same time, she worked in the district attorney’s office and then in private practice for the New York law firm Pavia & Harcourt.

Turkewitz first wrote about the solo law practice and its name in a June 4 post. In the Times story, legal ethics professor Stephen Gillers said bar associations frown on the use of “& Associates” in names of solo firms because it can be misleading. He added that Sotomayor never appeared to use the name on letterhead or marketing materials, making the issue something of a technical question.

Turkewitz outlines another “smattering of small issues” that may have been on the minds of his questioners. They range from whether Sotomayor cleared the law practice with her employers to whether she registered the name with court administrators.

Turkewitz says Sotomayor’s nuanced rulings may not make for good TV, but “easy ethical issues” can provide “fodder for high-profile hearings where camera-hungry politicians hope to poke and prod and score the best quotes for the evening news.”

Related coverage:

TaxProf Blog: “Does Judge Sotomayor Have a Tax Problem?

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