Shelley Hayes graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1973 with an A.B. in History and Sociology. She received her Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School in 1976.
Ms. Hayes joined the United States Department of Justice as an attorney-advisor to the Deputy Attorney General. Iin 1978 she joined the Office of the Solicitor of the Interior, Division of Surface Mining. In 1980, Ms. Hayes joined the Office of the Solicitor of Labor, Division Of Occupational Safety and Health, as an appellate attorney. Ms. Hayes then joined the law firm of Connerton, Bernstein and Katz, where she remained from 1983 until 1985.