After getting her JD from Willamette, Virginia Linder started her career as assistant attorney general for Oregon, specializing in appellate litigation. Six years into her career, she became the first woman solicitor general for Oregon, where she oversaw all work on more than 4,000 appeals per year. She personally briefed and argued many of the most important of those appeals, and she became the first woman to argue a case on Oregon's behalf in front of the United States Supreme Court.
In 1997, Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Linder to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which made her the first openly LGBTQ person to hold statewide office in Oregon. Nine years later, she ran in a three-way contest for an open seat on the Oregon Supreme Court. When she won that election, she became the first woman to take a seat on that court through a contested election, and the first open lesbian on the highest court of any state in the nation.
Justice Linder retired from the Oregon Supreme Court in 2015. She continues to serve as a senior judge in Oregon and remains active in legal education and other professional activities with the Oregon Bar Association.