Timothy B. Dyk

Timothy B. Dyk

The Education of a Federal Judge

By Timothy B. Dyk
With Bill Davies

An account of what it was like to practice and adjudicate law in modern America, detailing shifts within the legal profession, both private and public, in the United States since the 1960s. 

Paperback, 252 Pages


October 2022

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

The book’s importance rests firmly on two strong contributions: Its content and its approach. Its content – delivered in the Judge’s own words – provides audiences with a unique view of many seminal moments in American twentieth-century legal history, including the Supreme Court under Earl Warren, the Watergate controversy, the growth of the Big Law firms, First Amendment litigation, and the Cameras in the Courtroom movement. It closely details the significant changes in law firm culture and the legal profession since the 1960s. It uniquely provides a rare behind-the-scenes account of the Senate Confirmation process for a Federal judicial nominee, at the process of judging on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, what life is like for a Federal judge, and how the court manages its docket. Taken individually, each of one of these insights is worthy of attention – but together in the same book, it is a one-of-a-kind volume.

Employing an innovative approach, the book sits at the crest of a brand new wave of US legal research, which focuses on the role of lower federal courts in shaping the “life” of US law. Biographies of Supreme Court Justices abound and regularly find large audiences for obvious and very good reasons. The personalities and decisions reached by that great institution have a clear impact on the functioning and structure of the United States. However, at the turn of the twenty-first century, legal historians have begun to turn away from the Supreme Court as the exclusive focus of their attention. The latest trends in legal history point to rapidly growing interest in lower court histories, their judges, and the process by which they adjudicate individual cases. While various biographies of lower court judges exist, few meet the breadth and importance of Dyk’s experiences, and none is delivered in the judge’s own words.


With the publication of "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge", Timothy Dyk lays out his life and judicial  experiences in connection with some of the most significant times in modern American law, ranging from his time at the Warren Court, through a private career in First Amendment and other high profile practice, to his current role in the US Court of Appeals. Based on his own account of his long career and supplemented with documentary evidence drawn from archives, media sources, and scholarship, and with the assistance of Professor Bill Davies, "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge" not only details Dyk's experiences but also offers a significant contribution to our understanding of the seismic changes in US law since the 1960s — Midwest Book Review

US Federal Circuit Judge Timothy B. Dyk is concerned that the pressures of Big Law life are draining the joy and purpose out of legal practice—and potentially hurting the quality of representation. The appellate judge and former Jones Day partner, whose memoir “The Education of a Federal Judge” was published in October, told Bloomberg Law in an exclusive interview that he’s watched the legal world morph from a collection of boutique firms specializing in issues like patent litigation into centralized businesses that cover a litany of practice areas— Bloomberg Law

This book provides an informative look at the journey an attorney might take to reach this pinnacle of success, as Dyk relates stories from his early life, education, clerkship on the Supreme Court, work with several large law firms, and time on the Federal Circuit. All in all, The Education of a Federal Judge is a book worth reading, providing us with a deep dive into the life of Judge Dyk in an insightful, engaging, and interesting manner — Dale Larrimore, Esquire, The Bencher May/June 2023

Author Information

Timothy B. Dyk is Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Bill Davies is Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, DC.


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Ambassador Tom Udall; Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction; 2. Family History; 3. Early Life and Schooling, 1937–61; 4. Clerking at the Supreme Court, 1961–63 ; 5. The Tax Division, 1963–64; 6. Wilmer Cutler, 1964–90; 7. Jones Day, 1990– 2000; 8. Reflections on Changes in the Legal Profession; 9. Becoming a Federal Judge, 1993–2000; 10. The Confirmation Process, 1998–2000: Selected Diary Entries; 11. Life as a Federal Judge, 2000–the Present; 12. Epilogue; Appendix; Index.


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