The Yale Law Journal

Announcing the 2019-2020 YLJ Public Interest Fellows

Zoe A. Jacoby
26 Mar 2019

The Journal is pleased to announce a new class of YLJ Public Interest Fellows

  • Ruthie Lazenby ’19 (Shirley Adelson Siegel Fellow): New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
  • Jeff Zalesin ’19 (Jane Matilda Bolin Fellow): Campaign Legal Center
  • Amber Qureshi ’19 (Justine Wise Polier Fellow): Muslim Advocates

Each of the three Fellowships is named after an inspiring alumna of the Yale Law School:

  • Shirley Adelson Siegel was an editor of Volume 49 of the Yale Law Journal and graduated from Yale Law School in 1941. She was the only woman in her law school class and went on to work in public housing and civil rights, ultimately becoming the head of the civil-rights bureau of the New York City Law Department in 1959. There she worked to break up discriminatory apprenticeship requirements in the building trades. She also served as general counsel of the Housing and Development Administration and as New York State’s Solicitor General. After taking a few decades off from practicing law in order to teach, she returned to foreclosure prevention work in 2008.
  • Jane Matilda Bolin graduated from Yale Law School in 1931 and was the first African American woman ever to do so. She went on to become the first African American woman to join the New York City Bar Association, the first to join the New York City Law Department, and the first to serve as a judge in the United States. Her judgeship began in 1939 when she was sworn into the bench of the New York City Domestic Relations Court, and she served in this capacity until she retired at the age of seventy. Throughout her career, Ms. Bolin remained committed to civil service, and worked closely with the NAACP, serving on its executive committee.
  • Justine Wise Polier was an editor of Volume 37 of the Yale Law Journal and graduated from Yale Law School in 1928. Prior to law school, she advocated for labor rights at a woolen mill in Passaic, New Jersey. After graduating, she became the first woman to hold a judicial office above magistrate in New York. She served for thirty-eight years as a New York State Family Court judge. Throughout her career, Polier was seen as a brilliant judge and activist who championed the rights of children and the civil rights of African Americans. After retiring from the bench, she served as director of the Juvenile Justice Division of the Children’s Defense Fund. 

Toward the end of their Fellowship year, the YLJ Fellows will publish short pieces on the Forum. The pieces will incorporate and reflect upon the work that they did over the course of their Fellowship year. In addition, the Fellows will participate in a yearly gathering to honor the outgoing Fellows and welcome the new ones. 

Congratulations to the YLJ Fellows!