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Diane Wood
Diane Wood glasses.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Assumed office
September 7, 2022
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In office
October 1, 2013 – July 3, 2020
Preceded by Frank H. Easterbrook
Succeeded by Diane S. Sykes
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In office
June 30, 1995 – September 7, 2022
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by William J. Bauer
Succeeded by John Z. Lee
Personal details
Diane Pamela Wood

(1950-07-04) July 4, 1950 (age 73)
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouses Steve Van (Early 1970s)
Dennis J. Hutchinson
(m. 1978; div. 1998)

Robert L. Sufit
(m. 2006)
Children 6
Education University of Texas at Austin (BA, JD)

Diane Pamela Wood (born July 4, 1950) is an American attorney who serves as a Senior United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

After working in private practice and the executive branch, Wood became the third woman ever hired as a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Seventh Circuit on March 31, 1995. She is considered a liberal intellectual counter to Richard Posner and Frank H. Easterbrook.

Early life and education

Diane Pamela Wood was born on July 4, 1950, in Plainfield, New Jersey, to Lucille Padmore Wood and Kenneth Reed Wood. She lived in nearby Westfield, New Jersey, where her father was an accountant at Exxon, and her mother worked for the Washington Rock Girl Scout Council. She is the second of three children, with an older sister and a younger brother. When Wood was 16, her family moved to Houston, Texas. In 1968, she graduated as valedictorian of Westchester High School in Houston.

Wood graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in English with high honors. She was then accepted to University of Texas School of Law. There, Wood was an editor of the Texas Law Review and a member of the Women's Legal Caucus. Wood earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975, graduating with high honors and Order of the Coif. She was among the first women at the University of Texas admitted as a member of the Friar Society.


Wood clerked for Judge Irving Goldberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1975 to 1976 and for Justice Harry Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court from 1976 to 1977. She was one of the first women to serve as a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice. After clerking at the Supreme Court, Wood was an attorney-advisor for the Office of the Legal Adviser of the United States Department of State from 1977 to 1978. From 1978 to 1980, she practiced at the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.

Wood began her teaching career as an assistant professor of law at Georgetown University from 1980 to 1981. In 1981, she settled in Chicago and joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. She was the third woman ever hired as a law professor at the University of Chicago and the only woman on the faculty when she began in 1981. Wood served as Professor of Law from 1989 to 1992, Associate Dean from 1990 to 1995, and (as the first woman to be honored with a named chair) the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professor of International Legal Studies from 1992 to 1995. Since her appointment to the Seventh Circuit, she has continued to teach at the University of Chicago Law School as a Senior Lecturer in Law, along with fellow Seventh Circuit judges Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner.

Wood was a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General at the United States Department of Justice from 1985 to 1987. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for international, appellate, and policy in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Wood is a member of the American Law Institute and sits on its Council. She is also a member of the American Society of International Law, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences where she serves as Chair of the Council. A past member of the American Bar Association, she has served on the governing councils of the ABA's Section of Antitrust Law and its Section of International Law and Practice. Wood has pursued various law reform projects through the American Bar Association and the Brookings Institution Project on Civil Justice Reform.

In January 2021, the University of Chicago Law School, where Wood teaches as a senior lecturer, announced that it would honor Wood for her 25th anniversary on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit with a special edition of essays published by her colleagues in the University of Chicago Law Review.

Federal judicial service

Diane Wood
Prior official photograph from 2008.

On March 31, 1995, President Bill Clinton nominated Wood to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after William J. Bauer took senior status. She was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate and received her commission on June 30, 1995. Wood became the second woman ever to sit on the Seventh Circuit. She is known for building consensus on the court and rallying other judges around her positions. Neil A. Lewis has called Wood an "unflinching and spirited intellectual counterweight" to the Seventh Circuit's well-known conservative heavyweights Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook. She served as Chief Judge from October 1, 2013 to July 3, 2020.

Wood was considered a likely candidate for the United States Supreme Court in the Obama administration. Speculation that she might be appointed intensified after Justice David Souter's retirement announcement, and Wood was the first candidate Obama interviewed for the post, meeting with her at the White House while she was visiting from Chicago. When Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire at the end of October 2010 term, Wood's name was again widely put forward as a likely replacement.

On December 9, 2021, Wood announced she would take senior status contingent upon the confirmation of her successor. She assumed senior status on September 7, 2022, after John Z. Lee was confirmed.

Law reform work

Wood was elected to the American Law Institute in 1990 and was elected to the ALI Council in 2003. She is Chair of the ALI's Nominating Committee and an Adviser on two projects: the Restatement Fourth, The Foreign Relations Law of the United States project (Jurisdiction) and the Restatement Third, The Law of American Indians. She used to be an Adviser on the Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation project and the Transnational Rules of Civil Procedure project.


Wood has been called a "rock star of the written word" by Mother Jones. She has written extensively in many areas of the law, and a full bibliography can be found at the University of Chicago Law School website. Some representative works include:

  • Trade Regulation: Cases and Materials, Casebook (with Robert Pitofsky & Harvey J. Goldschmid) (4th ed. 1997 to 6th ed. 2010).
  • The Bedrock of Individual Rights in Times of Natural Disaster, 51 Howard L.J. 747 (2008).
  • 'Original Intent' Versus 'Evolution', The Scrivener 7 (Summer 2005) (also published in Green Bag Almanac & Reader 267 (2007)).
  • Our 18th Century Constitution in the 21st Century World, 80 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1079 (2005).
  • Reflections on the Judicial Oath, 8 Green Bag 2d 177 (2005).
  • The Rule of Law in Times of Stress, 70 U. Chi. L. Rev. 455 (2003).
  • International Harmonization of Antitrust Law: The Tortoise or the Hare?, 3 Chi. J. Int'l L. 391 (2002).
  • Sex Discrimination in Life and Law, 1999 U. Chi. Legal F. 1.
  • Generalist Judges in a Specialized World, 50 SMU L. Rev. 1755 (1997).
  • The Impossible Dream: Real International Antitrust, 1992 U. Chi. Legal F. 277.
  • 'Unfair' Trade Injury: A Competition-Based Approach, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 1153 (1989).
  • Class Actions: Joinder or Representational Device?, 1983 S. Ct. Rev. 459.

Personal life

Wood is married to Robert L. Sufit, a professor of neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, to whom she was introduced by her fellow Seventh Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner. She has six children, including three stepchildren, from her previous two marriages.

She was married from 1978 to 1998 to Dennis J. Hutchinson, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Wood married her first husband, Steve Van, while both were law students. She and Hutchinson, who became close friends during their time as law students in Texas, separated amicably and remain friends, colleagues and co-parents today.

She plays oboe and English horn in the North Shore Chamber Orchestra in Evanston, Illinois, in the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, and in the West Suburban Concert Band in LaGrange, Illinois.

Wood lives in Hinsdale, Illinois, and is Protestant.

See also

  • List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 2)
  • Barack Obama Supreme Court candidates
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