Lindsey Siegel '11 Wins Prestigious Skadden Fellowship for Work with Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Lindsey Siegel ’11, is a student in the Women and the Law Clinic and a Public Interest/Public Service (PIPS) Scholar.  She started her path toward working as an advocate for victims of domestic violence as an undergraduate student at Emory University in Atlanta.  She continued her work after college as she considered her next step.

“I had a sense that I’d be better able to advocate for people with a law degree,” Siegel said.  “I was doing legislative work in Georgia, and while I was doing some research and working on policy I came to realize that on the policy level having a law degree can be very effective.” 

After her first year at American University Washington College of Law, Siegel landed an internship at the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF). 

“I enjoyed working with clients and really enjoyed the work I was doing,” Siegel said.  “I found it challenging and I wanted to go to work every day.  It was a pretty big sign, and I needed to pay attention to it.”

Almost immediately after she left Siegel approached AVLF about a fellowship application.  She met with her supervisor every few weeks last summer, figuring out what the fellowship project should look like and who she should be talking to in the community to make sure the project would have an impact. 

Siegel and AVLF identified housing as a major need for survivors of domestic abuse in the Atlanta area.  They decided to pair employment and housing, since they often go hand-in-hand for survivors looking to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

“I thought it was really important that I talk with community members and potential stakeholders in Atlanta about the project,” Siegel said, “to see if this was something they had really identified as a need so that we were filling a gap, and not just starting a project because I wanted something to do.”

Siegel began putting her Skadden Fellowship application together.  She worked closely with Professor Cynthia Jones, who wrote Siegel’s letter of recommendation.  In fact, Jones wrote the letter of recommendation for Rebecca Walters – a Skadden winner last year.  Amy Myers from the Domestic Violence Clinic, herself a former Skadden Fellowship winner, also played a key role in preparing Seigel’s materials.  Siegel also received assistance from the Office of Public Interest, where she is a PIPS Scholar.

“Many people who embark on ambitious projects to work with disenfranchised populations quickly become overwhelmed by the lack of resources,” said Jones. “By contrast, Lindsey’s extensive experience working with organizations that advocate for domestic violence survivors gives her the perspective needed to be an effective voice for this needy population.”

Skadden Fellowships last for two years, and are meant to provide the funding needed for lawyers to pursue public interest work.  When Siegel learned she had won, she realized that her short-term career plans were set as she entered her final semester of law school.

“I think my reaction was what it still is – shock,” Siegel said.   “Some of my colleagues were applying and they had fantastic projects.  Just the idea that you can come up with a project, and someone will pay you to do exactly what you want to do your first year out of law school is pretty unusual.  I am definitely aware of how lucky I am to be getting this opportunity.” 

Women and the Law Clinic director Ann Shalleck said the following about Siegel upon announcing her fellowship:

“We are privileged to be able to provide an education that helps students develop their capacities to shape dynamic, fulfilling and meaningful lives as lawyers, to excel and find joy in the work they do, and to bring justice to the lives of their clients, their communities and the world,” said Shalleck.