As of Monday, when Drew Days III argued a case on behalf of a shuttered brokerage firm that is seeking to recover $4.5 million in losses, more than a year had passed since a black lawyer in private practice stood at the lectern in the elegant courtroom and spoke the traditional opening line, “Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court.”

Days, the solicitor general in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, splits his time between Morrison & Foerster and Yale Law School. He is one of the few black lawyers who regularly represent clients at the high court.