Martin J. Siegel was born and raised in Houston. He earned a B.A., Highest Honors, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988, where he majored in the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Siegel received his law degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1991. Following law school, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.
From 1992 to 1994, Siegel was an associate in the Washington, DC office of Jenner & Block. At Jenner, he worked on appellate, commercial, intellectual property and environmental matters. He assisted in the Supreme Court briefing for respondents in U.S. Nat’l Bank of Oregon v. Indep. Ins. Agents of America, 508 U.S. 439 (1993); represented MCI in patent, antitrust and other matters; and helped develop the evidence for, draft and present a petition for post-conviction relief to the Maryland state trial court on behalf of death row inmate Kevin Wiggins a petition eventually granted by the Supreme Court in a decision vacating the death sentence and setting new standards for counsel in capital cases. See Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003).
From 1995 to 2000, Siegel served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division in the Southern District of New York, where his practice focused on bringing civil rights actions, defending statutes from constitutional challenge, and defending federal agencies and officers from suits based on government action.
Civil rights cases brought by Siegel include a complaint under the Voting Rights Act following fraud in a Bronx school board vote, resulting in a new election; some of the first cases in the United States brought under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act; an action based on discriminatory zoning in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and an investigation of the New York City Parks Department for employment discrimination. In a case of first impression, Siegel successfully defended provisions of the 1996 immigration and welfare reform laws from constitutional attack under the 10th Amendment by New York City in the district court and the Second Circuit.
In all, Siegel tried eight cases in federal district court and briefed and argued twelve appeals to the Second Circuit. He received the Department of Justice's Director's Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney in 1999 for the successful trial defense of the former chief of the CIA’s Technical Services Division in a case involving the agency’s experimentation with LSD in the early 1950s.
In 2000-01, Siegel was detailed to serve as Special Counsel on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where his responsibilities included drafting and analyzing legislation on election reform, campaign finance, criminal justice, immigration and other issues.
From 2001-06, Siegel was a partner at Watts Law Firm in Houston, where he worked on commercial, franchise, patent, trade secret, false advertising, product liability and personal injury litigation. In 2002, he successfully represented Texas beer distributors against Anheuser-Busch after it wrongfully prevented a $60 million sale of their distributorship, achieving a highly favorable confidential settlement. In 2003, he helped represent the founder of a securities trading firm forced out of the business he founded before its sale for $150 million, winning a $43 million arbitral award (attorneys’ fees: $12,274,249.79; expenses: $977,466.04).
Texas Monthly has named Siegel a “Texas Super Lawyer” for his appellate work every year since 2008. The award is given to approximately 5% of the attorneys in Texas selected for the honor by their peers. He was previously a “Rising Star,” the parallel award given to lawyers under 40. He has also repeatedly been named one of Houston's leading appellate lawyers by H Texas magazine.
In 2012, Siegel was elected to the Texas Bar Foundation, a fellowship limited to 1/3 of 1% of licensed Texas attorneys each year based on regional peer nomination. The Foundation supports projects throughout Texas that provide free or low cost legal services for underserved communities, promote professionalism, and educate the public about the justice system.
Siegel's writings include law review articles and several Op-Ed pieces on legal topics. He has written for and is a member of the national editorial board of Litigation, the magazine of the ABA's Section on Litigation, and also writes a quarterly column on appellate practice in Texas Lawyer. He has been interviewed for and quoted in news stories by media outlets including ABC's Houston affiliate, NPR's Houston's affiliate, Law360.com and Texas Lawyer.
Siegel has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, as a guest lecturer there and at business and graduate school classes at Princeton and UCLA, and as a speaker at CLE seminars and workshops throughout Texas.
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