2023 Fairchild Lecture

A Conversation with the U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar

4 p.m. Central Time, 
Tuesday, September 12, 2023 

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About Solicitor General Prelogar

Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar is the 48th Solicitor General of the United States and serves as the fourth-ranking individual at the Department of Justice.  As Solicitor General, she is responsible for conducting and supervising all Supreme Court litigation on behalf of the United States.  The Solicitor General also determines whether appeals will be taken by the federal government to all appellate courts and whether the federal government will file an amicus curiae brief or intervene in any appellate court.  The Solicitor General additionally assists the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Associate Attorney General in the development of broad Department program policy.

Solicitor General Prelogar previously served in multiple roles at the Department of Justice.  Before her confirmation as Solicitor General, she served as Acting Solicitor General and Principal Deputy Solicitor General for nearly seven months.  She also served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General from 2014 to 2019.  In that capacity, she briefed and argued multiple cases in the Supreme Court and helped formulate the government’s appellate strategy in lower courts.  During her prior tenure as a career attorney at the Department, she also was detailed to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction-of-justice issues, where she served as an Assistant Special Counsel.

Solicitor General Prelogar was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, and graduated from the area’s public schools.  She received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Emory University and a master’s degree in creative writing with distinction from the University of St. Andrews.  She subsequently spent a year living and studying in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a Fulbright Fellow.  She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was an Articles Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

After graduating from law school, Solicitor General Prelogar clerked for Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  She then completed consecutive Supreme Court clerkships for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan.  After her clerkships, she worked as an associate in the appellate group at Hogan Lovells LLP.  She later became a partner at Cooley LLP, where she focused on Supreme Court and appellate litigation.  Solicitor General Prelogar devoted substantial time to pro bono litigation while in private practice and also served as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where she co-taught a course on Supreme Court and appellate advocacy.

Solicitor General Prelogar was nominated by President Joe Biden on August 11, 2021, was confirmed by the United States Senate and received her commission on October 28, 2021, and was sworn in by Attorney General Garland the next day.  She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young sons.

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About Judge Fairchild

Thomas Fairchild

Judge Thomas E. Fairchild, a 1937 UW Law School graduate, was Wisconsin Attorney General, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, circuit judge, justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and then later chief judge and ultimately senior circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit until his death on February 12, 2007. For 50 years, Judge Fairchild demonstrated both a scholarly regard for those principles of law that generations have molded into the American definition of justice and equality and a remarkable sensitivity to the ever-changing human conditions that make the search for justice and equality an ongoing one.

About the Fairchild Lecture

The Thomas E. Fairchild Lectureship was established in 1988 at University of Wisconsin Law School as a tribute to Judge Fairchild. Initiated by his former law clerks, the lectureship brings a distinguished member of the legal profession — from the bench, bar or academia — to speak at UW Law School on a topic of importance to the profession. Many distinguished guests have served as Fairchild lecturers, including Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor.

View a complete list of Fairchild lectures

1988 Justice John Paul Stevens, "A Judge's Use of History"
1989 David S. Ruder, "The Development of Legal Doctrine Through Amicus Participation: The SEC Experience"
1990 Judge Kenneth W. Starr: ”The Court of Appeals and the Future of the Federal Judiciary"
1991 Judge Harry T. Edwards, "The Judicial Function and the Elusive Goal of Principled Decision Making"
1993 Judge Mary Schroeder, "Appellate Justice: Fairness or Formulas"
1994 Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, “Refreshing Institutional Memories: Wisconsin and the American Law Institute"
1995 Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "The Life of the Law: Principles of Logic and Experience from the United States"
1996 John P. Frank, "The Shelf Life of Justice Hugo L. Black"
1997 Sol M. Linowitz, "Moment of Truth for the Legal Profession"
1998 Judge Lawrence Walsh, "The Future of the Independent Counsel Statute"
1999 Professor Marc Galanter, "Old and in the Way: The Demographic Transformation of the Legal Profession and Its Implications for the Delivery of Legal Services"
2000 Stephen B. Bright, "Will the Death Penalty Remain Alive in the Twenty-First Century?"
2001 Professor Elizabeth Warren, "The Market for Data: The Changing Role of Social Sciences in Shaping the Law"
2002 Judge Patrick Lucey, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, Ellen Proxmire, and Alexander Shashko, "Revitalization of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in the Mid-20th Century"
2003 Judge Reena Raggi, "The Role of District Courts"
2004 Michael Traynor, "Citizenship in a Time of Repression"
2005 Sen. Russ Feingold, "Upholding an Oath to the Constitution: A Legislator's Responsibilities"
2006 Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, "Thomas E. Fairchild: A Judge's Legacy"
2007 Judge Diane Wood, "Snapshots from the Seventh Circuit: Continuity and Change, 1966 to 2007”
2008 U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, "Thoughts On How the Legal System Treats Jurors"
2009 Scott Turow, "It's Only Words:  Thoughts of a Lawyer and a Novelist"
2010 John Skilton, "Abraham Lincoln, A Lawyer for the Ages"
2011 Judge William K. Sessions III, "Federal Sentencing Policy: A Path For The Future"
2012 Professor Michael J. Zimmer, "Inequality, Individualized Risk and Insecurity"
2013 Judge William J. Bauer, "The War on Drugs"
2014 Collins T. Fitzpatrick, " Protecting the Fourth Amendment So We Do Not Sacrifice Freedom for Security"
2015 R. Nils Olsen, Jr., "All in the Family: A Legacy of Public Service and Engagement—Edward and Thomas Fairchild”
2016 William C. Hubbard, "Our Justice System at an Inflection Point"
2017 Judge Lynn Adelman, "The Erosion of Civil Rights and What to Do About It"
2018 Judge Robert Katzmann, "Civic Education and the Federal Courts"
2019 Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, "The Warren Court: A Fifty Year Retrospective"
2021 David Maraniss, "The McCarthy Era and its Echoes: A Story of Family, Journalism and the Search for Truth"
2022 Judge Nancy Gertner, "The Future of the U.S. Supreme Court"

Digital Repository

Check out the UW Law School Digital Repository for more about past Fairchild Lectures »

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