Joel H. Siegal: What has influenced my passion to pursue justice for all?

From ashrams in India to music in the Soviet Union: How my world travels influenced me.

After obtaining a B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany and obtaining a certification from Cornell, I followed the lead of many in my generation by traveling and exploring the world.

My trip took me to the far reaches of the globe. I traveled to India and lived in two different ashrams where I explored meditation, yoga, and Vedanta. I learned about the benefits of self-awareness and harmony between the mind and body. I expanded my understanding of the physical self and the spiritual self. And, I strengthened my appreciation for diverse ideologies and practices throughout the world. 

I then traveled to the Soviet Union, where I helped produce a series of folk-music concerts starring the famous “Singing Rabbi,” Shlomo Carlebach. I traveled through Europe, where I explored both the beauty of European culture. Upon observing the Nazi concentration camps, I gained more insight into its dark side as well. These experiences broadened my awareness of the dichotomous world we live in and prompted me to consider how I can contribute more to the world’s beauty.

Joel Siegal gained a deep appreciation for people when he traveled the world.

After my travels, I needed to focus my new knowledge and energy into the next steps in my life. I consulted with a long-time family friend and distinguished member of Nixon’s Enemy List, Sid Davidoff, about the next path in my journey. After much discussion and consideration, in 1978, I enrolled in California Western School of Law in San Diego.

Bill Walton and the Dead moved me forward in my journey

Joel Siegal, of Litigate For Justice learned more about San Francisco, especially that he wanted to be a part of and help the community.

One day during my first year of law school, I was on a jog near the San Diego Zoo and met NBA star Bill Walton, who had just signed a contract to play with the San Diego Clippers. We became instant and close friends, probably because we had so much in common: a devastating hook shot, an intense dislike of Richard Nixon, and nothing but love for the Grateful Dead.

Within weeks, Walton invited me to accompany him to San Francisco for the Dead’s New Year’s Eve show at Winterland Ballroom. The opening act that night was The Blues Brothers. I have fond memories of sitting on a couch backstage between Jerry Garcia and John Belushi. 

On this trip the people, the atmosphere, and the beauty of San Francisco inspired me to make the City by the Bay my home. I still have an immense love for the community and I have never looked back.

A few weeks after the concert, I personally met “Ramrod,” the legendary president of the Grateful Dead, and head of the road crew. Ramrod and I became close friends and even before I had graduated from law school, I was assisting the band with its legal issues. For example, I guided the band’s charitable foundation on contributions to the San Francisco Unified School District for the purchase of new musical instruments. 

When Ramrod and his wife prepared their estate plan, they showed their trust and confidence in me by designating me as the executor of their estate, and much Grateful Dead memorabilia. These early experiences in my legal career, solidified my belief that the most important role of an attorney is to help and protect people. I continue to believe in this mantra and have made it my number one priority to ensure that my clients receive the justice they deserve.  

Jerry Garchik: My legal mentor solidified my passion to pursue justice for all

Upon starting my legal career, my mentors influenced me to pursue justice for all.

I began to learn in earnest in 1983 as an apprentice to noted labor and civil rights lawyer Jerry Garchik. I was able to work with him on some important cases where I witnessed his desire to pursue justice for his clients. With Jerry, I gained a wealth of knowledge and insight into the legal process and the numerous avenues that can be taken to pursue justice for clients.

Aside from the significant work of having our cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, working with Jerry Garchik was also a lot of fun. Jerry’s wife Leah Garchik is a noted gossip columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle. Dinner parties at their home were always very interesting. One night I met one of Jerry’s Harvard Law classmates and author of The Paper Chase, John Osborn, who told me that one of the characters in that novel is modeled after Jerry. 

I still share office space with Jerry and several other top-rated lawyers. We are friends and colleagues and have developed a wonderful network of excellent and caring professionals. They continue to be a source of inspiration to me and continue to provide me with counsel on important issues and cases. The relationships I have forged with them have demonstrated that our fight for justice is stronger when we are in it together. 

As part of Siegal & Richardson, I will fight to pursue justice for you

I am fortunate to have had such unique opportunities and experiences in my life. Also, I am fortunate that those experiences gave me insights and perspectives that have influenced my legal career. I am truly passionate about helping those who may not have the resources to help themselves and to fight for justice on behalf of my clients. And, I am truly passionate about making positive contributions to my community.