New to the Bench: Hon. Rachel Hughey

headshot of women with brown hair

The Hon. Rachel Hughey was appointed to the Fourth District Bench in September 2021 by Governor Tim Walz. She was previously a shareholder at Merchant Gould.

Why did you want to become a judge?

I wanted to do more to serve my community. Long before I applied to be a judge I was involved in the community in a variety of ways, including providing pro bono legal services in a variety of different areas and through nonprofit board service. I felt that service as a judge would give me an opportunity to use the skills that I have developed throughout my career to serve the community full-time.

What was your career path before becoming a judge?

I majored in chemical engineering in college and went to law school at the University of Minnesota. I joined Merchant & Gould as a summer associate after my first year of law school, and was a partner and shareholder there practicing complex civil litigation when I was appointed to be a judge.

What has it like being onboarded as a judge during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has been good. Prior to becoming a judge, I had been working from home due to the pandemic, but as soon as I was appointed, I was working in person. The new judge training was in-person, and while many of my calendars are still virtual, trials are in-person and we are having more in-person hearings as well. I really like being in-person—it gives me the opportunity to interact closely with my clerks, court staff, and other judges. I have also enjoyed the in-person hearings, and I think the attorneys and parties do as well.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing our judicial system today?

There are so many issues facing the judicial system, but I think one of the most pressing is a lack of faith in the system.

What's been the most surprising thing to you since taking the bench?

Some of the attorneys who appear before me are very new, so I was expecting some bumps, but I have been very impressed. For the system to work, we need good people in all levels, including the attorneys who appear before the court. So, the quality of lawyering that I have seen has been surprising in a good way.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I try to stay active, and enjoy running, biking, swimming, yoga, and (light) weight-lifting.

What are some books you recommend?

I highly recommend the last book my book club read—The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter