Judge Rader was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1990 and served as its Chief Judge from 1 June 2010 until his retirement in 2014. Before joining the Federal Circuit, Judge Rader served as a trial judge on the United States Claims Court (now the US Court of Federal Claims), and as Minority and Majority Chief Counsel to Subcommittees of the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Since leaving the bench in 2014, Judge Rader has founded the Rader Group, initially focusing on arbitration, mediation, and legal consulting and legal education services. Judge Rader has presided over a major arbitration under ICC rules in Paris; conducted mediations to settle ongoing litigation; joined law faculty at Tsinghua University; conducted full-credit courses at leading law schools in Washington, DC, Seattle, Santa Clara, Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Munich; consulted with major corporations and law firms on IP policy and litigation; and advised foreign governments on international IP standards. He continues to advocate improvements in innovation policy through speaking engagements worldwide, and has led efforts to form the International Arbitration Center in Tokyo (IACT).