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Judge Tatel was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in October 1994. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1963 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1966. Following law school, he taught for a year at the University of Michigan Law School and then went into private practice with the firm of Sidley & Austin in Chicago. From 1969 to 1970, he served as Director of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, then returned to Sidley & Austin until 1972, when he became Director of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. From 1974 to 1977, he returned to private practice as associate and partner with Hogan & Hartson, where he headed the firm's Community Services Department. He also served as General Counsel for the newly created Legal Services Corporation from 1975 to 1976. In 1977, Judge Tatel became the Director of the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1979, where he headed the firm's education group until his appointment to the D.C. Circuit.