Elena Kagan, Money, Real Estate, Skaddenfreude, Student Loans

Open Thread: What’s Your Net Worth? (And how does it compare to Elena Kagan’s?)

Earlier this week, we published a Lawyerly Lairs post about a graduating 3L named Jimmy. According to the blog Urban Turf, “Jimmy” is a 27-year-old law student with a job in D.C. Biglaw lined up, starting at $160,000. If that’s not enough to make you hate Jimmy, he also has a credit score of 781, $140,000 in the bank for a down payment on his first home, and no student loan debt.

Jimmy triggered envy, player-hating, and other strong reactions in the comments:

“F**k Jimmy. I graduated with 3.3 and couldn’t fund a job with a Biglaw firm in DC. Hence I make $75K, have $90K in student loans, $5K on credit cards and $0 for a down payment. Again, F**k Jimmy.”

“I’m sure there are several women here who are also thinking ‘Fuck Jimmy.'”

Meanwhile, blogger Jane Genova expressed doubt that Jimmy exists. A newly minted law school graduate, with zero debt and (at least) $140K in the bank — is this like believing in Santa Claus?

Jimmy is certainly very fortunate. But is he so fortunate that he’s incredible? No. His financial state could be explained by any number of factors, alone or in combination, such as (1) generous parents or other relatives, (2) a past inheritance, (3) a successful first career before law school (e.g., in finance), or (4) a full-ride scholarship to law school.

In the comments to the Jimmy post, ATL readers started to anonymously share details about their personal finances and net worths. If you found this interesting, be sure to check out this article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, entitled “Net-Worth Obsession.” It’s about people who obsessively track their net worths over time and compare themselves to others on this front, sometimes with the help of websites (such as NetWorthIQ, featured prominently in the article).

Are you a net-worth obsessive? Tell us your net worth (anonymously), learn the net worths of some of your fellow readers, and see how your net worth stacks up against that of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan — after the jump….

In January 2009, when Elena Kagan was nominated to serve as Solicitor General, she had to fill out a Senate questionnaire (and she’ll have to fill out a similar Senate questionnaire for her SCOTUS nomination). The questionnaire requires detailed financial disclosure. You can check out Kagan’s financial disclosure for her SG nomination here (via the Wall Street Journal).

As dean of Harvard Law School, Lady Kaga earned an annual salary of $427,299 — not as much as the $485,000 base salary of former Maryland Law dean Karen Rothenberg, but still an impressive sum (not Biglaw equity partner territory, but certainly non-equity partner / counsel territory). We’re guessing Kagan also did reasonably well during the years before she became dean, which included stints at Williams & Connolly, the Clinton White House, and legal academia — jobs that probably paid in the low six figures (or the inflation-adjusted equivalent thereof today).

According to her SG nomination financial disclosure, Kagan had a net worth of $1,011,718 as of January 15, 2009. As is the case for many Americans, her most valuable asset was her house, worth $1.4 million (valued at its 2004 purchase price). But, like many Americans, she was leveraged; she had two mortgages on it, totaling $1,215,000. (The first mortgage was from Countrywide; hopefully Kagan wasn’t a friend of Angelo.)

So Kagan had only $185,000 in equity in her home — a number that could have been better. Then again, it’s not as bad as then-Judge Sotomayor’s financial picture at the time of her SCOTUS nomination, which included $15,000 in dentist bills and another $15,000 in credit card bills.

On the plus side, Kagan had over $500,000 in retirement savings, plus another $300,000 or so in cash and securities. Even setting aside the retirement money, which shouldn’t be touched except in emergency circumstances, the Divine Miss K’s cash position looks heavenly.

A net worth just north of one million: this was Dean Kagan’s financial picture in January 2009. We’re guessing that not much has changed since (assuming no major changes to her real estate holdings or her stock portfolio). Sure, she’s been drawing a six-figure salary as SG for the past year, but that’s not a super-lucrative job, at least by the standards of the legal profession. (We’re guessing the Solicitor General makes almost as much as the Attorney General, whose annual salary comes in under $200,000.)

UPDATE (5/19/10): According to the New York Times, in her SCOTUS Senate questionnaire, Kagan “disclosed that her net worth jumped more than $750,000 over the past year to $1.76 million, apparently the result of the sale of a home she bought in 2004.” Nice!

UPDATE (5/20/10): Actually, the house sale explains just part of the increase. See here.

How does Kagan’s seven-figure net worth compare to yours? Take our reader poll below, and disclose additional details in the comments (as some of you already started doing in our earlier post).

Net-Worth Obsession [New York Times]
Elena Kagan’s Questionnaire for Her Nomination as Solicitor General [Wall Street Journal]
Networth IQ [official website]
Not doubting your journalistic integrity, but, David Lat, we want proof “Jimmy” exists [Law and More]
DC Buyer: Soon-to-Graduate Law Student Looking for First Home [Urban Turf]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Law Student Edition

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