University of Virginia School of Law professor Toby J. Heytens was named Tuesday to be the next solicitor general of Virginia.
Heytens, a 2000 graduate of the Law School, was selected for the post by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
The Office of the Solicitor General represents Virginia in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Virginia and federal circuit courts in non-capital cases that call into question the constitutionality of a state statute or that bear on policies of the commonwealth. The office also assists other divisions of the Office of Attorney General with constitutional and appellate issues.
“I’m thrilled that we are able to add someone of Toby’s caliber and experience to our team,” Herring said. “His work as a clerk to Justice Ginsberg, in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, as an advocate in the Supreme Court, and as an educator on the law will make him an outstanding solicitor general.”
Heytens succeeds another UVA Law alumnus, 1989 graduate Stuart Raphael, who is now a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams. UVA Law is well-represented in such positions nationwide: The school is No. 5 among law schools in the number of graduates serving as state attorneys general and solicitors general.
Heytens will take a leave of absence from the Law School for the duration of his term. He previously took leave from the faculty from 2007 to 2010 to serve in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, where he argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Law School has a long tradition of faculty and former students serving the public, including the commonwealth of Virginia. The state will benefit greatly from Heytens’ renewed public service, Dean Risa Goluboff said.
“It is difficult for me to imagine a better solicitor general for the commonwealth than Toby,” Goluboff said. “The same analytical clarity and love of the law that make him an award-winning teacher also make him a virtuoso appellate advocate. He is as smart as they come and deeply committed to advancing justice and equality.”
Heytens said he is excited to participate in government legal advocacy at the state level.
“I’ve never worked in state government, so this is a really cool opportunity,” he said. “I love being a teacher and being a practicing lawyer. Whenever I spend a long time doing just one, I miss doing the other.”
After graduating from UVA Law, Heytens clerked for then-Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, served as a Bristow Fellow in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, and then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
He next spent several years working at O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., where his practice focused on appellate litigation.
As a faculty member of the Law School, Heytens’ teaching and research interests have included civil procedure, constitutional torts, criminal procedure and remedies. He has also served as one of the directors of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Heytens received a Raven Award in 2015 for “excellence in service and contribution to the University of Virginia” and an All-University Teaching Award in 2016.
In addition to his duties at the Law School, Heytens also serves as the head coach of UVA’s undergraduate trial advocacy team, which won its third national championship during the 2016-17 season.
Heytens said the protests in Charlottesville this summer were one reason he was inspired to re-enter public service.
“Having all that happen just blocks from where I live really emphasized to me that Virginia has become my home and how much it matters to me,” he said.