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Shirley Adelson Siegel

The only woman in the Yale Law School class of 1941, Shirley Adelson Siegel became a trailblazer as head of the New York State Attorney’s first Civil Rights Bureau in 1959. Siegel struggled to find work until Proskauer Rose hired her as their first female attorney. She volunteered with the ACLU on civil rights cases, including the Supreme Court case on Japanese internment camps. In 1945 she became executive director of the New York Citizens Housing Council. While at the Civil Rights Bureau, she helped enforce fair hiring practices for women and minorities in trade unions and airlines, and passed a law banning sex discrimination through the state legislature. From 1979–1982 she served as Solicitor General for New York State (where she pioneered putting records of all appeals on the internet), then turned to teaching, training lawyers at Columbia, Cardozo, and Fordham from 1984–2004. In 2006 the American Bar Association recorded her oral history to preserve her memories of her landmark career. Unflagging in her nineties, she returned to housing rights as a pro bono lawyer, taking on foreclosure cases through the City Bar Justice Center. 

Shirley Siegel, 2015
Full image
Groundbreaking civil rights lawyer Shirley Siegel with her daughter Ann Siegel in 2015.
Courtesy of Eric Siegel
Date of Birth
July 3, 1918
Place of Birth
New York, New York

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Shirley Siegel." (Viewed on December 19, 2018) <>.


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