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Getting To Know Elena Kagan

NAME: Elena Kagan

AGE: 48

NEW APPOINTMENT: Solicitor General

OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Dean of Harvard Law School (2003-present); Associate Counsel to President Clinton (1995-96); Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99)

KNOWN FOR: Hiring prestigious, and sometimes controversial, faculty at Harvard, many of whom she lured from other top schools. She oversaw a $476-million capital fundraising campaign. She also revamped the school's core curriculum and instituted small, student-friendly changes, like offering free coffee in classroom buildings.

CONTROVERSIES: She hired Jack Goldsmith as a professor. Goldsmith had worked in the Bush White House and many suspected he had helped author the now infamous "torture memos." Kagan defended Goldsmith, who remains on faculty at Harvard.

TRIVIA: Like Obama, she was once an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She was appointed dean of HLS by Larry Summers, who at the time was Harvard's president and is now a key member of Obama's economic team. When she wasn't selected as Summers's successor, several hundred law students hosted a party and wore "We (heart) Elena" t-shirts.

--Seyward Darby