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SIEGEL--Shirley. Shirley Adelson Siegel, Trailblazing attorney who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 1937, received the Barnard Student International Fellowship for study at the London School of Economics, and enrolled as the only woman in the Yale Law School Class of 1941. Chosen to be on the Editorial Board of the Yale Law Journal, she was nevertheless turned down by over 40 firms before being hired as the first woman attorney at Proskauer, Rose. In the evenings she volunteered as a Member of the Board of the New York ACLU, for which she drafted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case brought by Japanese American citizens challenging their internment. After a few years in Los Angeles, she returned to New York, founded the New York State Civil Rights Bureau, served as General Counsel of the New York Housing Development Corporation, and rose to become Solicitor General of the State of New York. She taught law and worked pro bono into her mid-90's. Ms. Siegel was the recipient of numerous awards, and one of the three Public Interest Fellowships awarded annually by the Yale Law Journal is named after her. At Barnard College's commencement in 2019, when she was 100 years old, she was presented with the Barnard Medal of Distinction for her "trailblazing civil rights and fair housing" work. She died on June 22, 2020, as a result of a stroke at her home in Manhattan. She was the beloved daughter of Henry and Rose Adelson of New York City, sister of Dorothy and Bernice, widow of Elwood Siegel (died 1994) and Henry Fagin (died 2009). She is survived by a son, Eric D. Siegel, a daughter, Ann B. Siegel, a son-in-law, Michael Fischer, and a grandson, Samuel H. M. Fischer. Contributions in her memory can be made to the ACLU. A memorial service will be held at a later date; to be notified contact:

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Published in New York Times on Jun. 23, 2020.
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7 entries
June 30, 2020
Mrs. Siegel - never Shirley - hired me straight out of law school to be her clerk in the early 1980's when she served as NY's Solicitor General. She stressed diligence, exactitude, principled decisions, and kindness. Her almost prim appearance - stylish hats, white gloves - was balanced by her firm commitment to what was right. Most of all, she hated being a trophy hire, and shuddered every time someone introduced her as the first female SG. I have thought of her throughout my career and am so grateful that she is the one who set me on my course.
Betsy Broder
June 27, 2020
Shirley was an admirable and lovely person. I am grateful to have gotten to know her a little, and saddened now. I am very sorry for your loss.
Pamela Cain
June 25, 2020
My sincerest condolences to your family for the loss of your loved one, Please except my deepest sympathies.
Simone Taylor
June 25, 2020
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John Fiegel
June 24, 2020
I did not personally know Shirley Siegel. Nonetheless, I praise her courage and endurance and am grateful for her being a role model for not only women but every person who might be discounted or not encouraged for an arbitrary reason. Thank you.
Dr. Janet Kendrick
June 24, 2020
I was a new attorney in the Attorney General's office in 1963, assigned to trusts and estates. I had gone into the law passionate to practice civil rights. I went to Shirley and asked if I could volunteer in her office in addition to my regular work. She had me work with her to develop the Bail Reform Act for NY. By doing so, she gave me the tools and entry to change fields and get into doing the law work I loved (inventing the field of public interest law). Her support and mentorship equipped me and the other young women lawyers in the office to develop our visions of what we wanted to do in the law.
Sarel Kromer
June 23, 2020
I was privileged and honored to be a summer legal intern in1962
in the Civil Rights Bureau.(my second year in law school.)
Shirley's professional leadership and personal integrity and the
frienship she extended were so nstrumental in my careerand personal life.
We stayed in touch for many years.
May her memory be a blessing.
Phyllis Orlikoff Flug
PHYLLIS Orlikoff Flug
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