Chief Judge Garland was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in April 1997 and became Chief Judge on February 12, 2013. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1974 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1977. Following graduation, he served as law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. From 1979 to 1981, he was Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States. He then joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he was a partner from 1985 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1993. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994. From 1994 until his appointment as U.S. Circuit Judge, he served as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, where his responsibilities included supervising the Oklahoma City bombing and UNABOM prosecutions.
In addition to his service on the bench, Chief Judge Garland has been a volunteer tutor for the past 18 years at J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington, D.C. He generally works with one or two students at a time and tries to stay with them through their elementary school years and sometimes into middle school. He has also recruited volunteers for the school from among his staff. According to teacher Charlene Wilburn, "he's now the longest serving volunteer tutor I've seen at this school. For me, this is about so much more than tutoring. It's about our children having another adult in their lives who encourages them when they need it, supports them when they falter, and tells them to never give up on their dreams. I'll tell you what I appreciate most about this man: He never asks for recognition, or fanfare. He just does what he committed to do."
Chief Judge Garland has published in the Harvard Law Review and Yale Law Journal, taught at Harvard Law School, and served as President of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.