Bill Traxler is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He practiced law in Greenville, South Carolina, with his father until 1975 when he became an assistant state prosecutor under then-Solicitor Billy Wilkins. He was promoted to deputy prosecutor in 1978, and in 1981 he was appointed as the Solicitor for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in South Carolina by Governor Richard Riley. In 1982 he was elected without opposition. He was elected a resident state trial judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in 1985 by the General Assembly of South Carolina and was re-elected in 1986.
In 1991, because of a recommendation by Senator Strom Thurmond, President George Bush appointed him to be a United States District Court Judge for South Carolina. In 1998, because of a recommendation by Senator Ernest F. Hollings, President Bill Clinton appointed him to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2009 he became the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 2010 the Chief Justice named him to the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and in 2013 the Chief Justice appointed him Chair of the Executive Committee. He served as both the Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States until 2016 when his terms expired. Now he is simply a “has been.”
In his career he has served on the Board of Directors for the Federal Judges Association and the Federal Judicial Center. He recently completed a six-year term on the Board of Trustees for Furman University. He has honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of South Carolina Law School and the Charleston Law School. In August of last year he took senior status, which resulted in a reduced work load and more time to do what his wife tells him.