David Donald Siegel, 82, law professor, expert in New York civil procedure

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By Friday, Oct 10 Obituaries
David Donald Siegel

North Egremont — David Donald Siegel died on October 9, at his home in North Egremont, after a series of health problems. He was born on October 18, 1931, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

David attended New York City public schools and was a bright but unmotivated student at Brooklyn College, where he majored in Romance Languages. He received a draft notice on the day of the Korean War armistice, and served his country for two years in Stuttgart, Germany, translating French documents. David described his peacetime military service as a turning point in his life. After returning home, he enrolled at St. John’s University Law School, where he graduated at the top of the class of 1958.

In 1962 the New York State Legislature enacted the Civil Practice Law and Rules, which reorganized the law of New York civil ligation. David quickly found his professional niche. He transformed arcane subjects with clarity, concision, and, most remarkably, humor. The bench and bar came to rely on his writings as indispensable to the practice of law. In the years that followed, he was in wide demand as a lecturer and expert in the areas of New York Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, and Federal Jurisdiction.

David’s premier publication was his treatise, New York Practice, which has been the definitive text on New York civil procedure from its original publication in 1978 until today, now in its fifth edition. He brought meticulous scholarship and lucidity to all his writing, including the Bar Association’s New York State Law Digest and his own Siegel’s Practice Review, which he first published in 1993. David edited the former for thirty-seven years, and the latter from 1993 to 2014. His practice commentaries for McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York have been cited by the United States Supreme Court and have been extensively relied on by New York courts, including more than 250 citations by the Court of Appeals.

He served as Professor of Law at Albany Law School from 1972 until his retirement as Distinguished Professor in 2007. David also taught at St. John’s University, and was a visiting professor at New York University and Cornell University Law Schools. At Albany Law, he created a scholarship fund for Law Review students, which has provided financial support for 126 students to date. David was a revered mentor to scores of students and lawyers, as well as family members and friends.

David was renowned for his quick wit, infectious sense of fun, and generous soul, all of which were in full force until his final hours. David is survived by his wife of nearly 45 years, Rosemarie Duffy Siegel, and two daughters, Sheela Clary of West Stockbridge and Rachel Siegel of Great Barrington. His five grandchildren, Cecelia, Fiona, George, Donal and Patrick were the lights of his later life. He was predeceased by his father, Harry Siegel, in 1976, and his mother, Ida Scharaga Siegel, in 1980.

An interfaith memorial service will be held at St. James Church in Chatham, N.Y., at 1 p.m. on October 19. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Albany Law School Law Review, in Memory of Professor David D. Siegel.

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