Linda A. Fairstein was born of Jewish heritage into an upper-middle-class family on May 5, 1947, in Mount Vernon, New York. She was the daughter of physician Samuel Johnson Fairstein and registered nurse Alice Atwell Fairstein. An eager early reader, Fairstein began writing in childhood and was torn between careers in literature, ballet, and public service as a youth.
Fairstein attended Vassar College, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. She afterward entered the University of Virginia School of Law, acquiring her jurisprudence degree in 1972. She immediately joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and soon was named an assistant district attorney. Fairstein succeeded Leslie Crocker Snyder as head of the district attorney’s Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in 1976 and served in that capacity until leaving in 2002 to concentrate on writing, lecturing, and serving as a consultant in her specialty. Fairstein in 1987 married Justin N. Feldman—former senior partner in a Manhattan law firm who helped run Robert F. Kennedy’s 1964 United States Senate campaign—becoming stepmother to Feldman’s three children.
Fairstein’s tenure with the District Attorney’s Office was frequently marked by controversy. This was because of her penchant for inserting herself into high-profile cases, for claiming credit for legal innovations she did not instigate, and for speaking publicly about them—though she without...
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