(1960 -) Elena Kagan is a highly distinguished judicial figure, and the fourth female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where she began to realize her interest in the dynamics of law. Kagan graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1977 with a degree in history. She went on to study at Harvard Law School, and eventually became an articles editor for the university's law review. Kagan also clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall during her time in school. She went on to practice law at the D.C. firm of Williams & Connolly.
The commercial law firm atmosphere did not suit Kagan, and she joined the University of Chicago Law School faculty instead. While at Chicago, she published several articles on the rights of speech and the judicial confirmation process. Kagan joined the Clinton administration in 1995 to work with the legal counsel. She left after several years to return to academia, and became a professor at Harvard Law School. Kagan took on a new leadership role as dean of the law school, the first woman to hold the position. In 2010, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had announced his resignation, leaving a place for President Obama to fill. He selected Kagan to the position, and in August 2010 she was confirmed by the Senate. Kagan continues to serve as an Associate Justice today.
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