Alison Siegler

Alison Siegler

Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic

Alison Siegler is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She is also the Founding Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC), the nation’s first legal clinic devoted to representing indigent clients charged with federal felonies, pursuing impact litigation in federal court, and engaging in systemic reform of the federal criminal system. The FCJC’s system-change work focuses on combatting mass incarceration and racial inequity in the federal system. Professor Siegler runs a Federal Bailwatching Project aimed at reducing pretrial jailing and has testified before Congress about bail reform. The FCJC’s groundbreaking racial discrimination impact litigation earned Professor Siegler the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Justice Stevens Award for Outstanding Public Service Work and earned the FCJC the 2020 Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence. Professor Siegler previously served as an attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Chicago, a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic, and a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale College, earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, and holds an LL.M. from Georgetown.

Education

Georgetown University Law Center

LLM in advocacy, May 2006

Yale Law School

JD, 1998

  • Senior Editor, Yale Law Journal
  • Executive Editor, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 
  • Coker Fellow: Teaching assistant and legal writing instructor for Professor Peter Schuck

Yale University

BA in humanities, magna cum laude, 1995

  • Honors in the selective humanities major for distinguished classwork and thesis

Yale in London Program

London, England, Spring 1994

  • Studied at Yale’s Paul Mellon Center for British Art

Experience

The University of Chicago Law School

Clinical Professor of Law, 2014-present 
Associate Clinical Professor of Law, 2011-2014
Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic, 2008-present
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, 2008-2011
Lecturer-in-Law, 2007

  • Faculty advisor, Defenders; the Law Women’s Caucus; the Criminal Law Society; the Domestic Violence Project
  • Comment advisor,The University of Chicago Law Review
  • Honorable Mention for the Class of 2011 Award

Federal Defender Program

Staff Attorney, Chicago, IL, 2002-2008

  • Represented indigent clients charged with federal crimes in the federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States
  • Represented clients at every stage of the criminal process, including serving as lead counsel in federal jury trials, Seventh Circuit appeals, and petitions for writs of certiorari to the Supreme Court

DePaul University College of Law

Lecturer, 2005 and 2006

Georgetown University Law Center

E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow, Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic, 2000-2002

  • Represented indigent clients charged with felonies and misdemeanors in D.C. Superior Court; taught and supervised third-year law students representing misdemeanor clients in court; taught weekly trial practice and skills classes

Judge Robert W. Gettleman, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Law Clerk, 1998-2000

Public Defender Service

Law Clerk, Washington, DC, summer 1998

Capital Defender Office

Law Clerk, New York, NY, summer 1997

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal

Summer Associate, Chicago, IL, 1997

New Haven Legal Assistance Assoc., Special Public Defender

Extern, New Haven, CT, spring 1997

Journal Articles

  • "Shift the Paradigm on Mandatory Minimums," 36 Criminal Justice 28 (2022). www
  • "Reforming the Federal Criminal System: Lessons from Litigation," 25 The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice 99 (2022) (with Judith P. Miller & Erica Zunkel).
  • "Discovering Racial Discrimination by the Police," 115 Northwestern University Law Review 987 (2021) (with William Admussen). www
  • "Bail," 50 Annual Review of Criminal Procedure 394 (2021).
  • "Bail," 49 Annual Review of Criminal Procedure 395 (2020).
  • "Rethinking Federal Bail Advocacy to Change the Culture of Detention," July 2020 The Champion 46 (2020) (with Erica Zunkel). ssrn www
  • "The Federal Judiciary’s Role in Drug Law Reform in an Era of Congressional Dysfunction," 18 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 238 (2020) (with Erica Zunkel). www
  • "“I Got the Shotgun, You Got the Briefcase”: Criminal Defense Ethics in The Wire," University of Chicago Legal Forum 209 (2018) (with Erica Zunkel). www
  • "Rebellion: The Courts of Appeals’ Latest Anti-Booker Backlash," 82 University of Chicago Law Review 201 (2015). ssrn cu
  • "Review of Co-Defendant Sentencing Disparities by the Seventh Circuit: Two Divergent Lines of Cases," Circuit Rider 23 (2012). cu
  • "Death Is Different No Longer: Graham v. Florida and the Future of Eighth Amendment Challenges to Noncapital Sentences," 2010 Supreme Court Review 327 (2011) (with Barry Sullivan). ssrn cu
  • "Disparities and Discretion in Fast-Track Sentencing," 21 Federal Sentencing Reporter 299 (2009) (Guest Editor's Observations). cu
  • "The Patriot Act's Erosion of Constitutional Rights," 32 Litigation 18 (2006). cu

Book Sections

  • "Supervised Release and Probation Revocations," in Defending a Federal Criminal Case (Federal Defenders of San Diego, 2010). cu
  • "Discovery," in Defending a Federal Criminal Case (Federal Defenders of San Diego, 2010). cu
  • "Appendix: Sample Cross Examination," in MacCarthy on Cross Examination, Terence F. MacCarthy ed. (American Bar Association, 2008). cu

Other Publications

  • "Guest Blog Posts re Wilks and the Presumption of Detention: Part 2," Sentencing Law and Policy, January 23, 2022. www
  • "Guest Blog Posts re Wilks and the Presumption of Detention: Part 1," Sentencing Law and Policy, January 19, 2022. www
  • "End Mandatory Minimums," Brennan Center for Justice, October 18, 2021. www
  • "Opinion: How Did the ‘Worst of the Worst’ Become 3 Out of 4? Merrick Garland Can Bring Bail Reform to the Federal Justice System," New York Times, February 21, 2021 (with Kate Harris). www
  • "Don’t Let Chicago’s Federal Jail Become the Next Coronavirus Hot Spot," Chicago Tribune, April 24, 2020 (with Erica Zunkel). www
  • "The Advantage of Being Blago," Chicago Tribune, December 3, 2011. www
  • "Ostriches Are Not Merely Careless Birds: Fighting the Willful Blindness Instruction at Trial," Liberty Legend, 2004.

Testimony and Interviews

Recent Speeches and Trainings (Selected)

  • University of Chicago Law School’s Supreme Court Preview, Washington, DC (forthcoming 9/21/22)
  • Breaking Out of the Cage: Bail Reform Act Fundamentals, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) Defender Services Office, Multi-Track Federal Criminal Defense Seminar, Seattle (forthcoming 8/11/22)
  • Unlocking the Cage: Combatting Pretrial Jailing, National Federal Defender Seminar, Denver (5/11/22)
  • Lessons from Georgetown’s Fiftieth Annual Review of Criminal Procedure and University of Chicago’s Courtwatching Study, Federal Judicial Center, 3/10/22 (webinar for federal magistrate judges)
  • Second Chances Symposium, University of Chicago Law School, 2/17-2/18/22
  • Probation and Pretrial’s Power to Advance Bail Reform, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies annual conference, 10/7/21.
  • Panel: Diversity in the Courtroom (moderator), Intensive Trial Practice Workshop, University of Chicago Law School, 9/13/21.
  • Federal Pretrial Detention: Racial Disparities and the Need for Reform, Meeting of the Ninth Circuit Judiciary Fairness Committee, 8/20/21.
  • Justice, Institutions, and Systemic Change, Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit, 8/3/21.
  • Reforming the Bail Reform Act, Federal Judicial Center Series for Federal Magistrate Judges, 7/8/21.
  • Criminal Reform Priorities for the New Administration, UChicago Nussbaum Roundtable (with Sonja Starr), 5/10/21.
  • Building for the Future and Advancing Social Justice in the Community Through Collaborative Impact Litigation and Systemic Reform, American Association of Law Schools, AALS Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education (with Fiona Doherty, Juliet Sorensen, & Erica Zunkel), 4/29/21.
  • Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Bail Crisis, Training for the Federal Defenders of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, 4/19/21.
  • Judge for National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, I Resolve Panel, 4/16/21.
  • Breaking Out of the Cage: Bail Reform Act Fundamentals, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) Defender Services Office, National Fundamentals of Federal Criminal Defense Series, 2/25/21.
  • Slicing Through the Layers of the Federal Bail Crisis, National Pretrial Services Conference, 1/26/21.
  • Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Bail Crisis, Speech to the Federal Public Defenders of the Northern District of California, 12/4/20.
  • Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Bail Crisis, Nat’l Ass’n of Criminal Defense Lawyers Race Matters III Conference, National Webinar, 11/2/20, https://www.nacdl.org/Event/RaceMatters.
  • Race, Equal Protection, and Policing, UChicago Law School Discussion Series on Policing (with Aziz Huq), 7/29/20, https://www.law.uchicago.edu/recordings/aziz-huq-and-alison-siegler-race-equalprotection-and-policing.
  • Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Bail Crisis, Speech to Criminal Justice Act Panel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1/23/20.
  • Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release, AO Defender Services Nat’l Webinar, 6/25/20.
  • Colloquium on Policing, University of Chicago Law School (Webinar, Chicago), 6/12/20, https://www.law.uchicago.edu/recordings/colloquium-crisis-policing.
  • Federal Bail Reform: The Current Pretrial Detention Crisis and the Next Frontier, Presentation to federal magistrate judges for the District of Puerto Rico (via Skype; with Erica Zunkel), 2/13/20.
  • Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Pretrial Detention Crisis, Race in the Federal Criminal Courts Conference, AO Defender Services Office (New Orleans), 2/6/20.
  • Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release, Federal Defender CDCA (Los Angeles), 1/31/20.
  • Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office, National Winning Strategies Seminar (Los Angeles), 1/30/20.
  • Federal Bail Reform: The Next Frontier, Roundtable presentation to federal magistrate judges in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), 1/29/20.
  • The Federal Pretrial Detention Crisis, Puerto Rico Federal Probation Office Presentation, 12/12/19.
  • Federal Bail Reform: The Next Frontier, 2019 ACS Judges’ Convening (Las Vegas), 11/16/19.
  • Winning Bail Strategies, Workshop for the Federal Public Defender & CJA Panel of Puerto Rico (San Juan), 11/7/19–11/8/19.
  • Expanding Advocacy for Pretrial Release, Annual Seminar for Federal Defenders (Boston), 10/7/19.
  • The Federal Criminal Justice Clinic: Creating Systemic Change Through Impact Litigation, University of Chicago Law Council Talk (Chicago), 10/4/19.
  • Litigating Race in Drug and Stash House Cases, Nat’l Ass’n of Criminal Defense Lawyers 12th Annual Defending Modern Drug Cases Conference (Las Vegas), 9/19/19.
  • Expanding Advocacy for Pretrial Release, Federal Judicial Center, National Seminar for Federal Defenders (Detroit), 5/29/19.
  • Panel: Beyond Money Bail: Addressing the State and Federal Pretrial Detention Crisis, Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference (Milwaukee), 5/6/19.
  • Expanding Advocacy for Pretrial Release, Nat’l Chief Federal Defender Conference (San Diego), 2/27/19.
  • Litigating Race, 2019 Capital Case Defense Seminar (with Henderson Hill, Monterey), 2/17/19.
  • Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office, National Winning Strategies Seminar (San Diego), 12/7/18.
  • Collaborative Litigation Strategies: Fighting for Collective Change Through Individual Criminal Defense, American Ass’n of Law Schools, AALS 41st Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, 5/1/18.
  • Attacking Bias Through Motions Practice: Revealing and Litigating Unfair Targeting of People of Color in Federal Court, AO Defender Services Office, Nat’l Winning Strategies Seminar (New Orleans), 1/25/18.
  • “I Got the Shotgun, You Got the Briefcase”: Criminal Defense Ethics in The Wire (with Erica Zunkel), UChicago Legal Forum Symposium: Law and Urban Institutions Ten Years After The Wire, 11/3/17.
  • Race Data Matters: Using Expert Testimony and Social Science Data about Discriminatory Policing to Win Pretrial Motions, NACDL Race Matters: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice (Detroit), 9/15/17.
  • Systemic Approaches to Challenging DOJ Policies, National Chief Federal Defender Conference & CJA District Representatives Conference, 3/9/17–3/10/17.
  • Attacking Bias Through Motions Practice: Revealing and Litigating Unfair Targeting of People of Color in Federal Court, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office Seminar, Race in the Federal Criminal Court, 8/6/15.
  • Chicago’s Best Ideas: The Courts of Appeals’ Latest Anti-Booker Rebellion, UChicago, 4/13/15.
  • The Courts of Appeals’ Latest Anti-Booker Rebellion, UChicago Law Review Symposium, 5/31/14.
  • Panel: Annual Review of the Supreme Court’s Term: Criminal Cases, ABA Annual Meeting, 8/3/12.
  • Panel: Twenty-Five Years of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference, 5/7/12.

Memberships and Professional Affiliations

  • Elected Member, American Law Institute (2021–present)
  • Member, Yale Law School Association Executive Committee (national) (2020–present)
  • Member, Chief Judge’s Advisory Committee on Seventh Circuit Rules (2013–present)
  • Barrister, Chicago Inn of Court (2011–present)
  • Board of Advisors, American Constitution Society, Chicago Lawyer Chapter (2009–present)
  • Illinois Chair, Seventh Circuit Bar Association Committee on Criminal Law & Procedure (2015–2021)
  • Member, American Constitution Society, Judicial Nominations Task Force (2015–2016)
  • Steering Committee Member, Yale Law School Alumni Association of Chicago (active 2005–2018)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2014–present)
  • Past Member, Senator Durbin’s Bipartisan Screening Committee for Federal Judges in the N.D. Ill. (2012)
  • Past Member, Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter board of directors (2008–2015)
  • Past Member, Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers board of directors
  • Admitted to practice in Illinois (active) and the District of Columbia (inactive)
  • Member, United States Supreme Court Bar
  • Member, Seventh Circuit Bar
  • Member, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Bar & Trial Bar

Awards and Honors

  • Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project (2020)
  • University of Chicago Laboratory Schools’ Rising Star Professional Achievement Award (2020)
  • Justice John Paul Stevens Award for Outstanding Pro Bono and Public Service Work in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit Bar Association (2016)
  • Ruth Goldman Award, the American Constitution Society’s Chicago Lawyer Chapter (2014)
  • Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (Class of 2014)
  • Excellence in Public Interest Service Award, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Federal Bar Association’s Chicago Chapter (2012)
  • University of Chicago Law School Class Award, Honorable Mention (2011)

Other Activities

  • 15th Yale Law School Reunion—Reunion Co-Chair (2013)
  • 10th Yale Law School Reunion—Reunion Co-Chair (2008); Gift Committee Member (2008)
  • University of Chicago Laboratory School Class of 1991, 15-Year Reunion—Planning Committee (2006)