Alison Siegler

Alison Siegler

Clinical Professor of Law, Director, Federal Criminal Justice Clinic

Alison Siegler is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and the founder and director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC), the nation’s first legal clinic solely devoted to representing indigent clients charged with federal felonies. The FCJC defends individual clients and pursues impact litigation in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the United States Supreme Court. The FCJC also works to reduce mass incarceration, combat racial disparities, and reform the federal criminal legal system. The clinic’s groundbreaking federal race discrimination litigation garnered nationwide recognition, including the Clinical Legal Education Association’s 2020 Award for Excellence. The FCJC is currently running a Federal Bail Reform Project to combat the federal bail crisis, an issue about which Professor Siegler recently testified before Congress. Before founding the FCJC, Professor Siegler served as an attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Chicago, a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic, and a law clerk for US District Judge Robert W. Gettleman. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale College, earned a JD from Yale Law School, and holds an LLM 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 Chicago, IL
Staff Attorney, 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 Washington, D.C. 
Law Clerk, summer 1998

Capital Defender Office New York, NY
Law Clerk, summer 1997

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal Chicago, IL 
Summer Associate, 1997

New Haven Legal Assistance Assoc., Special Public Defender New Haven, CT
Extern, spring 1997

Journal Articles

  • "Discovering Racial Discrimination by the Police," 115 Northwestern University Law Review __ (2020) (forthcoming) (with William Admussen). www
  • "Rethinking Federal Bail Advocacy to Change the Culture of Detention," __ The Champion __ (2020) (forthcoming) (with Erica Zunkel). www
  • "The Federal Judiciary’s Role in Drug Law Reform in an Era of Congressional Dysfunction," 18 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law __ (2020) (forthcoming) (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

  • www
  • www
  • "Ostriches Are Not Merely Careless Birds: Fighting the Willful Blindness Instruction at Trial," Liberty Legend, 2004.
  • "Litigating the Racial Dimensions of the Federal Pretrial Detention Crisis," Race in the Federal Criminal Courts conference, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office (New Orleans, LA), 6 Feb. 2020 (forthcoming)
  • "Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release," Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office, National Winning Strategies Seminar (Los Angeles, CA), 30 January 2020 (forthcoming)
  • "2019 ACS Judges’ Convening," American Constitution Society (Las Vegas, NV), 16 Nov. 2019
  • "Winning Bail Strategies," Federal Defender & CJA Workshop (San Juan, PR), 7–8 Nov. 2019
  • "The Federal Bail Crisis," Annual Seminar for Federal Defenders and CJA (Boston, MA), 7 Oct. 2019
  • "Litigating Race in Drug and Stash House Cases," National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 12th Annual Defending Modern Drug Cases Conference (Las Vegas, NV), 19 Sept. 2019
  • "Expanding Advocacy for Pretrial Release," Federal Judicial Center, National Seminar for Federal Defenders (Detroit, MI), 29 May 2019
  • "Panel: Beyond Money Bail: Addressing the State and Federal Pretrial Detention Crisis," Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference, 6 May 2019
  • Interviewee in Documentary: "A Court at the Heart of America" (celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois), 2019
  • "Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy into the Law School Curriculum Workshop" (Columbus, OH) (participant), 19 Apr. 2019
  • "Expanding Advocacy for Pretrial Release," National Chief Federal Defender Conference (San Diego, CA), 27 Feb. 2019
  • "Litigating Race," 2019 Capital Case Defense Seminar (Monterey, CA), 17 Feb. 2019 (with Henderson Hill)
  • "Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release," Chicago Federal Defender Program and CJA Panel Seminar (Chicago, IL), 16 Jan. 2019
  • "Busting Bond Myths and Winning Pretrial Release," Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Defender Services Office, National Winning Strategies Seminar (San Diego, CA), 7 Dec. 2018
  • "Transforming Social Justice Advocacy into Scholarship," Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 12 June 2018
  • "Collaborative Litigation Strategies: Fighting for Collective Change Through Individual Criminal Defense," American Association of Law Schools, AALS 41st Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, 1 May 2018
  • "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, National Winning Strategies Seminar (New Orleans, LA), 25 Jan. 2018
  • "'I Got the Shotgun, You Got the Briefcase': Criminal Defense Ethics in The Wire" (co-presenter with Erica Zunkel), University of Chicago Legal Forum Symposium: Law and Urban Institutions Ten Years After The Wire (Chicago, IL), 3 Nov. 2017
  • "Race Data Matters: Using Expert Testimony and Social Science Data about Discriminatory Policing to Win Pretrial Motions," National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 2017 Presidential Summit & Seminar, Race Matters: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice (Detroit, MI), 15 Sept. 2017
  • "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 Multi-Track Federal Criminal Defense Seminar (Philadelphia), 25 August 2017
  • "Fueling Academic Writing with Social Justice Advocacy to Serve Clients and Communities in Tumultuous Times," American Association of Law Schools, AALS 40th Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, 6 May 2017
  • Admitted Students Weekend Community and Global Impact Panel, Univ. of Chicago Law School, 6 April 2017
  • "Systemic Approaches to Challenging DOJ Policies," National Chief Federal Defender Conference & CJA District Representatives Conference, 9-10 March 2017
  • Faculty Public Interest Panel for incoming first year students, Univ. of Chicago Law School, 27 September 2016
  • "Litigating Selective Enforcement," Presentation at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, 20 July 2016
  • "Gathering & Using Empirical Data in Selective Prosecution and Enforcement Litigation," AO Defender Services Office Seminar: Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Bias for Capital and Non-Capital Defense Lawyers, 20 September 2015
  • "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, 6 August 2015
  • "From the Ivory Tower to the Courtroom: Academic Writing for Social Justice in the New Normal," American Association of Law Schools, 38th Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, 7 May 2015
  • "Chicago’s Best Ideas: The Courts of Appeals’ Latest Anti-Booker Rebellion," University of Chicago Law School, 13 April 2015
  • "Advocating for Your Client at Sentencing and on Appeal," Annual CJA & IACDL Criminal Defense Seminar, 21 November 2014
  • "The Courts of Appeals’ Latest Anti-Booker Rebellion," University of Chicago Law Review Symposium, 31 May 2014
  • "The Power of Research: A Case Study," Chicago Association of Law Libraries, 27 February 2014
  • "Litigating Federal Sentencing Appeals," Kirkland & Ellis, 22 November 2013
  • "Federal Sentencing in 2013," Annual CJA & IACDL Criminal Defense Seminar, 15 November 2013
  • "Stash Houses, Secrets, and Sentences: A Trifecta of Cutting-Edge Practice Pointers," Federal Bar Association Annual Federal Criminal Practice Program, 9 May 2013 (presenter and conference organizer)
  • "Two Federal Sentencing Revolutions," Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division Criminal Section Meeting, 30 November 2012
  • "Federal Sentencing in 2012," Annual CJA & IACDL Criminal Defense Seminar, 9 November 2012
  • "Death-in-Prison Sentences for Children: Evolving Jurisprudence Regarding Extreme Sentencing of Youth," Yale Law School Association of Illinois, 27 November 2012
  • "Panel: Annual Review of the Supreme Court’s Term: Criminal Cases," American Bar Association Annual Meeting, 3 August 2012
  • New Sentencing Litigation Strategies, Seminar for Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys (Chicago), 7 June 2012
  • "Panel: Twenty-Five Years of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines," Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference, 7 May 2012
  • "Attacking the Guidelines," National Sentencing Advocacy Workshop, 29 March 2012
  • "Women in the Judiciary Panel," University of Chicago Law School (moderator), 11 March 2012
  • "'The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained': Using Storytelling to Help Clinic Students Connect with Clients and Courts," Midwest Clinical Law Teachers Conference, November 2011
  • "Panel: Sentencing Blagojevich," Yale Law School Alumni Association, 6 July 2011
  • "Attacking the Guidelines with Spears and Pepper," Seminar for Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys, 23 June 2011
  • "Immigration Considerations and Consequences: From Bond Through Sentencing and Beyond," Seminar for Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys, 5 May 2011
  • "Women in Law: An Honest Discussion on the Experiences of Women Lawyers in Different Practice Areas," Law Women’s Caucus Diversity Month Panel at University of Chicago Law School, 27 January 2011
  • "The Newest Frontier of the Federal Sentencing Revolution," American Constitution Society Panel, 21 January 2011
  • "Panel: The Changing Court: The Supreme Court’s 2009-2010 Term," University of Chicago Alumni Club, November 2009
  • "Is Life Without Parole for Juveniles Who Commit Non-Homicides Constitutional," American Constitution Society at University of Chicago Law School, 15 October 2009

Memberships and Professional Affiliations

  • Illinois Chair, Seventh Circuit Bar Association Committee on Criminal Law & Procedure (2015
    to present)
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Seventh Circuit Rules (2013 to present)
  • Barrister, Chicago Inn of Court (2011 to present)
  • Board of Advisors, American Constitution Society Chicago Lawyer Chapter (2009 to present)
  • Member, American Constitution Society Judicial Nominations Task Force (2015 to present)
  • Steering Committee Member, Yale Law School Alumni Association of Chicago (2005 to present)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2014 to present)
  • Past Member, Senator Durbin’s Bipartisan Screening Committee for Federal Judges in the N.D. Ill. (2012)
  • Admitted to practice in Illinois and the District of Columbia
  • 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

  • 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, American Constitution Society (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 of Chicago (2012)
  • University of Chicago Law School Class Award, Honorable Mention (2011)